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Some years ago a friend suggested to my father 
that he should from time to time note down the 
recollections of his long life. This he did ; and 
three years ago he placed his manuscripts in my 
hands to arrange and edit. Since then I have 
discovered a large quantity of diaries and con- 
temporary correspondence. These, together with 
material drawn from other sources, have enabled 
me to enlarge the more interesting episodes of 
his life ; notably, the periods of the Reform Bill 
agitation in Birmingham, and of his residence in 
Scotland. All such matter has been submitted 
to my father for his approval or criticism, and 
although he has now completed his ninetieth year, 
his memory is clear and retentive, enabling him 
to give useful explanations or to supply connecting 

The family letters which had to be examined, 
and from which a selection had to be made, date 
from 1783, and extend over a period of upwards 
of seventy years. It is remarkable that the perusal 
of this correspondence of three generations brought 
to light no painful secrets nor ill-feeling of any 


kind, but, on the contrary, left on the mind of the 
reader a lively sense of the strong affection and 
trust in one another which prevailed in the whole 
family. ' This was a marked feature of the five 
" Hill brothers,*' of whom my father is the last 

It has been observed that the first part of a 
biography is often the more interesting portion of 
the story. This is true as regards the present 
" Life," the first fifty years of which were passed 
during a period of great national changes, both 
social and political. It has been thought well, 
therefore, that the autobiographical portion of this 
work should deal with the period from 1803 to 
1853, and that I should briefly describe the period 
subsequent to that date. Some family incidents 
of interest previous to 1803 are recorded in the 
first chapter. 

In the chief work of his life, that of Penal 
Reform, my father encountered much opposition. 
He has lived to witness great fluctuations of 
opinion on that important subject; but he has the 
satisfaction, now in his old age, of seeing the most 
esteemed of our European and American Penolo- 
gists advocating the opinions that he formed more 
than half a century ago, and of seeing public 
opinion setting in the same direction. 


Inverleith House, Hampstead, 
October^ 1893. 




Birth and parentage — John Hampden — ^Trial of Lord Ferrers 
— Joshua Symonds — Howard — Birmingham riots of 
1 7 9 1 — Dr. Priestley — Contemporary letters ... i 



Childhood — Old customs in Birmingham — Pressgang — 
Shenstone— " Waverley "—Battle of Waterloo— Booth 
the coiner — " Wager of Battel **... ... ... 21 



Country awakening to need of Parliamentary Reform — Major 
Cartwright— M. D. Hill— Hazelwood— " Public Educa- 
tion " — Montague Villiers, Bishop of Durham — Jeremy 
Bentham — Wilberforce — Thel wall —Hone — Thomas 
Campbell — De Quincey, etc. — The elder Charles 
Matthews — Dr. Parr — Henry Brougham ... ... 42 


1 824- 1 830. 


Visits to France and Guernsey— Benjamin Constant — Mon- 
sieur d'Argenson — D. de Lisle Brock — Society for the 
Diffusion of Useful Knowledge — Charles Knight — 
Professor Cowper — Catholic Emancipation ... 60 



The great Reform Bill — Birmingham Political Union — 
Thomas Attwood — Lord John Russell — Family action 
— Contemporary letters — Mr. Scholefield — Earl Grey — 
Public readings — Triumphal procession ... ... 77 


M. D. Hill, member for Hull — Family projects for social 
reforms — Joanna Baillie — " Family Fund " — Com- 
mencement of Corn Law agitation — Appointment as 
inspector of prisons — Mr. Sergeant Wilde — Hon. 
Charles P. Villiers— Robert Owen— Elizabeth Fry ... loi 



Arrival in Edinburgh — John Archibald Murray — First tour 

of inspection of prisons ... ... ... ... 119 



Edinburgh society in its second famous period — Lord Jeffrey, 
Lord Cockburn, Lord Murray, and others — James 



Abercromby on PeeFs character — Sydney Smith and 
Mr. Home — Mrs. Fletcher — Mrs. Siddons — The 
" Bride of Lammermoor " — The brothers Chambers- 
David Roberts, the painter— Miss Stirling Graham's 
"Mystifications" ... ... ... ... 134 



Social intercourse during tours in Scotland — Lord Fife — Lord 
Panmure — The " House of Touch " — Mr. Leny — Lord 
Chancellor Campbell — Mr. Wallace — Duke of Rich- 
mond — Mr. Babbage and Sir John Herschel — The 
Countess Duchess of Sutherland — Prison Bill — Fox 
Maule — Lord Aberdeen — Sir Charles Napier and the 
Glasgow Bridewell ... ... ... ... 165 



The Cowper family— James Nasmyth— Penny Postage — 
Marriage— Return to Scotland— Mrs. Hill's journals- 
Maria Edgeworth and Father Mathew—Abbotsford ... 188 


1 840- 1 842. 

Mrs. Hill's journals continued— Dr. Alison— Infant Felons' 
Bill and the Honourable Amelia Murray— The Be- 
thunes— William Lloyd Garrison— Mrs. Fletcher and 
Allan Cunningham— Authorship of " There's nae luck 
about the house "—Visit to Ayr— The widow of Burns 




I 842-1 844. 


Scottish Poor Law and Lord Dunfermline — Sheriff Watson's 
schools — W. M. Thackeray — Secession of the Free 
Kirk — Procession of ministers — ^Letter from Mrs. Fry 
— Maria Edgeworth and Professor Co wper— Debate 
on Postal Reform—" Field Day " ... ...218 



Prison matters — A great Eastern Pacha — ^Tour in Switzerland 
— Home rejoicings on Repeal of Com Laws — William 
Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglas — ^Archbishop 
Whately— Lord Melbourne and the Queen— Edin- 
burgh sculptors — Lafitte ... ... ... 241 



Appointment as inspector of an English district — Summary 
of reforms in Scotch prisons — English prisons — Travels 
in England — A "cheap-jack" — "National Force" — 
Bishop Stanley — Infant magistrates — Stubborn jury- 
men ... ... ... ... ... ... 255 



Book on " Crime " — Indeterminate sentences — Modem 
criminologists — Havelock Ellis — " Elmira " — Capital 
punishment — Changes in public opinion ... ... 273 




Great Exhibition — Appointment at the General Post-Office 
— Last years of T. W. Hill's life — Law Amendment 
Society — " Friends in Council " — Dr. Amott — Charles 
Dickens and the Money Order Office — A nautical Post- 
master-General ... ... ... ... 288 



Married Women's Property Bill — Letters from Mrs. Grote 
and Lady Byron — ^Various economic subjects — Postal 
reforms — Napoleon HI. — Kossuth — Pulszky — Lords 
Canning and Elgin — ^Visit to Egypt — ^Work in Hamp- 
stead— Mrs. Hill— " Elmira " — F. Hill's opinions 
quoted during the prison labour struggle in the United 
States ... ... ... ... ... 304 



Anecdotes of the " league of brothers " — Edwin Hill and 
his contrivances — Likeness between Arthur Hill and 
his brother Frederic — His memory — Rowland Hill at 
Bellevue — Matthew Davenport Hill at home — Con- 
clusion ... ... ... ... ... 324 

Index .... ... ... ... ... ... 325 



Frederic Hill, after a Portrait in Chalk by his 
Daughter, Ellen G. Hill, taken in 1874, etched 
BY Henri Manesse ... ... ... Frontispiece 

Medal, worn by Members of the Birmingham Political 

Union, bearing Date January 25, 1830 ... 78 

Poster, announcing Public Readings of the London 
Newspapers in Birmingham, to begin May 18, 
1832 ... ... ... ... ... 93 

Mrs. Fletcher in her Eightieth Year, after the Draw- 
ing BY G. Richmond, R.A. (by permission) To face 136 

Martha Cowper, after a Portrait in Water-colour, 

TAKEN IN 1839 ... ... ... To face 190 

Edwin Hill, from a Portrait in Chalk by Ellen G. 

Hill, taken in 1874 ... ... ... Tofaceif^Z 

Mr. and Mrs. Frederic Hill and their Daughter 
Constance, from a Picture in Water-colour by 
Ellen G. Hill ... ... ... To face ^20 

Arthur Hill, from a Portrait in Chalk by Ellen 

G. Hill, taken in 1873 ... ... To face ^2^ 



Birth and parentage — ^John Hampden — ^Trial of Lord Ferrers — 
Joshua Symonds — Howard — Birmingham riots of 17 91 — 
Dr. Priestley — Contemporary letters. 

I WAS born on the 29th of June, 1803, at Hilltop, a 
house situated at the summit of Gough Street, then 
in the outskirts of Birmingham. I was the sixth 
child of Thomas Wright Hill and Sarah, his wife, 
whose maiden name was Lea. 

Our parents frequently related to us incidents 
connected with earlier generations of our family; 
some of these which I remember I will repeat. 

My great-grandfather, John Hill, settled in Kid- 
derminster as a tailor. His family consisted of two 
sons and two daughters. His eldest son, James, 
my grandfather, who was a baker at Kidderminster, 
was a man of independent character. His oven was 
heated by fuel which was procured from a wood 
belonging to the lord of the manor, a member of 


the Foley family. In the canvass for a county 
election, James Hill was asked to give his vote in 
favour of this gentleman, but his political principles 
obliged him to refuse to do so. The consequence 
was that at the next faggot harvest he was not 
permitted to be a purchaser, and was thus put to 
great inconvenience. Firewood could still be ob- 
tained, but from a place four miles distant, which 
considerably augmented its cost. In this difficulty 
he determined to try an experiment. Coals were 
plentiful in the neighbourhood, but they had not at 
that time been used for heating baking ovens. 
James Hill tried the effect of making his fire partly 
of coal and partly of wood. The experiment suc- 
ceeded, and other bakers soon followed his example. 
The lord of the manor, now finding that he was 
rapidly losing his customers, sent to offer my grand- 
father the supply of faggots which had been so 
curtly refused ! 

A saying of James Hill's was often repeated 
amongst his descendants: "There are two kinds 
of evils about which it is of no use to complain — 
those which can be cured, and those which cannot." 

My grandfather died before I was born, but my 
great-uncle John lived to the advanced age of 
ninety-six, and one of my earliest recollections is 
seeing him seated in a large armchair in our 

i76o.] AN OLD DIARY. 

parlour. John Hill was one of those who enrolled 
themselves as volunteers to fight against the Pre- 
tender in 1745. There is a diary extant which he 
kept during a visit to London in 1760, In it he 
speaks of hearing **dear Mr. Whitfield preach at 
his chapel in Tottenham Court Road;" and also 
mentions Mr. Wesley. Amongst the miscellaneous 
entries are notes of purchases made on old London 
Bridge, and also a recipe for a " cordial for the 
colic," which consists of a great variety of in- 
gredients. It seems that the sufferer might have 
to wait some time for his cure, as, when made up, 
the mixture is to be put aside " to stand for twelve 
days before being used." But tlje most interesting 
part of this diary is an allusion to the preparations 
which he witnessed in Westminster Hall for the 
trial of Lol"d Ferrers. 

Lawrence Shirley Lord Ferrers, Viscount Tam- 
worth, had murdered his steward at Stanton, in 
Leicestershire, and on the i6th of April, 1760, he 
was arraigned in Westminster Hall before a vast 
concourse of people. Preparations were made for 
the reception of the Royal Family, all the am- 
bassadors and other distinguished persons, besides 
the members of both Houses of Parliament and a 
large number of ladies. "The grandeur of the 
scene exceeded all description, and the awful 


solemnity with which it was conducted was in- 
expressibly affecting/' When the hearing was 
ended, the lords rose up one by one, beginning 
at the youngest, and each laying his right hand 
on his breast, and solemnly bowing, said, " Guilty, 
upon my honour." Lord Ferrers was condemned 
to be hanged at Tyburn, and his body to be de- 
livered to the surgeons to be dissected. " The 
Ix)rd High Steward then broke his staff, to show 
that his office was ended, and dismissed the as- 
sembly." The foreigners were greatly interested 
in the proceedings. One ambassador exclaimed, 
" Great God, what laws ! What a people, that thus 
condemns one of their own body for taking away 
the life of a common man ! " * 

We were all taught to respect our great-uncle 
John Hill, especially in connection with his conduct 
as a juryman. He had been called upon to serve 
in that capacity at Worcester, when he alone, of the 
twelve jurymen, refused to take a bribe. The judge 
happened to hear of this, and thenceforward, when- 
ever he visited Worcester on circuit, he asked if he 
should have the pleasure of meeting the honest juror. 

A further instance of sturdy independence was 
furnished by another ancestor, 

• See contemporary Memoir published immediately after Lord 
Ferrers's execution. 

I770.] A TEST OF A LOVER. 5 

The maiden name of my paternal grandmother 
was Symonds. Her grandfather refused to place 
his vote at the disposal of a rich relative named 
Millington, a solicitor of Shrewsbury. In conse- 
quence of this, Mr. Millington left his whole fortune 
to found a hospital, instead of bequeathing it to 
the Symondses. This institution is still known as 
Millington's Hospital. 

Through this same Sarah Symonds we claim a 
connection with the patriot John Hampden, whose 
first wife belonged to the family of Symons, or 
Symeon, of Pyrton. I may here also mention that 
we claim a distant kinship with the author of 

Sarah's father, John Symonds, was a religious 
Nonconformist. When my grandfather, James Hill, 
proposed for his daughter, he remarked, " Before 
I give my consent, I must form a judgment of your 
spiritual state. I request you, therefore, to put up 
an extemporary prayer." This the lover accord- 
ingly did ; and as the marriage soon afterwards 
took place, I conclude that the trial was considered 

My great-uncle, the Rev. Joshua Symonds, was 
a popular Nonconformist minister. He lived at 
Bedford. The philanthropist Howard was a 
member of his congregation, but withdrew from 


it, owing to a difference of opinion upon certain 
religious tenets. Soon afterwards a parliamentary 
election took place, in which Howard was a candi- 
date. Mr. Symonds had been so much impressed 
with the excellence of his character, that, ignoring 
the diversity of their opinions, he not only gave 
him his vote, but used all his influence in his 
favour. The canvass was not successful, but from 
this time forward Howard became one of his 
most attached friends. Wilberforce was a cor- 
respondent of my great-uncle's, and Mr. Newton, 
of Olney, the friend of the poet Cowper, was his 
intimate friend. 

My father was named after a relative — Thomas 
Wright, a Shrewsbury nurseryman, of whom it is 
told that on his wedding day he took six men 
with him and planted, in commemoration of the 
occasion, the lime trees which became the fine 
avenue known as the "Quarry" (a corruption, I 
suppose, of the French carr^). He was reproved 
for having kept the dinner waiting, and replied 
that " if what he had done was successful, it would 
be of far more value than a wedding dinner." 

Amongst my father's recollections of his child- 
hood, he used to tell us that he had curly hair, 
and his mother, who admired his curls, would not 
allow them to be cut off or hidden ; the conse- 

1772.] A PURITAN HOME. 7 

quence was that, unlike all his schoolfellows, he 
did not wear a wig. 

He wore leathern breeches, which were very ^ 
stiff till softened by use. When a new pair arrived 
the breeches-maker used to put the lad's feet into 
them, and then, lifting him up by his breeches, 
would shake him till his legs settled into their 
proper place. 

The household of his parents, James Hill, the 
baker, and Sarah Symonds Hill, was subject to 
a strict puritanical discipline. On Sunday the 
shutters were only partially opened ; the family 
attended chapel three times, and in addition had 
a sermon read aloud in the evening. It even 
became a question whether Stackhouse's " History 
of the Bible " was of a sufficiently sacred character 
for Sunday reading. 

The family stock of books was very limited ; 
but this evil was not, in my father's opinion, without [ 
compensation, since, by frequent perusal, he made 
himself master of their contents. He acquired an 
intimate knowledge of the Bible, while among the 
secular works the "Arabian Nights' Entertain- 
ments " was his special favourite, a large portion of 
which he knew by heart. To these works was 
added another in a somewhat curious way. His 
father, together with a friend, had been appointed 


executor to a common acquaintance, recently de- 
ceased, who, having been a man of somewhat 
^secluded habits, and of a studious and philosophic 
turn of mind, was set down by some of the good 
people of Kidderminster as in league with the 
evil one. This gentleman had sympathized with 
my father's love of reading, and had bequeathed 
him two volumes. But these the co-trustee strongly 
recommended should be burnt, as they bore a 
cabalistic appearance, and came from a dangerous 
quarter. James Hill, however, who was more en- 
lightened than his neighbours, said, "Oh, let the 
boy have them;" whereupon were put into the lad's 
hands a "Manual of Geography" and a copy of 
" Euclid's Elements." Of this latter work the boy 
became enthusiastically fond. He mastered its 
difficult problems, and in later years pursued his 
studies into the higher mathematics. 

A strong tie of affection existed between my 
father and his younger brother Matthew. In 1785 
Matthew left home. He sought employment in 
Scotland, and finally went on to Ireland. My father 
felt the separation so keenly that, being unable to 
afford a seat in the mail coach, he walked the whole 
way from Birmingham to Holyhead (a distance of 
about a hundred and forty miles), crossed in the 
packet to Dublin, spent a week with his brother. 


and returned home in the same way. It was on 
this occasion that he first beheld the sea. Looking 
upon it from the Welsh hills, he thought it was a. 
great ploughed field, but, to his surprise, the furrows 
began to move, 

Matthew died in early manhood, to the great 
sorrow of his brother, whose attachment to him 
remained undiminished through a long life, and was 
testified upon his death-bed. 

My father became one of a class to whom Dr. 
Priestley gave instruction in natural philosophy. In 
1791, when the Birmingham riots broke out, which 
at first were directed chiefly against Dissenters, 
my father and his other classmates offered to 
defend Dr. Priestley's house. But the doctor 
thought it wrong to employ physical force even 
in self-defence, and declined their offer. Dr. 
Priestley, however, left his home, and took his 
household to a safer shelter elsewhere. Meanwhile, 
in spite of his refusal, my father and a few brave 
companions determined to do what they could to 
protect the doctor s property. My brother Matthew 
thus describes what followed : — 

" My father barred the doors, closed the shutters, made 
fast the house as securely as he could against the expected 
rioters, and then awaited their arrival. He has often 
described to me how he walked to and fro in the darkened 


rooms, chafing under the restriction which had been put 
on him and his friends. He was present when the mob 
broke in, and witnessed the plunder and destruction, and 
the incendiary fire by which the outrage was consummated. 
Lingering near the house, he saw a working man fill his 
apron with shoes, with which he made off. My father 
followed him, and, as soon as the thief was alone, collared 
him, and dragged him to the gaol, where he had the 
mortification to witness the man quietly relieved of his 
booty, and then suffered to depart ; the keeper informing 
my father that he had had orders to take in no prisoner 
that night." 

Not to be wholly baulked in his zeal, my father 
climbed up a lamp-post to address the angry mob ; 
but a volley of stones soon put an end to his 

During the burning of Dr. Priestley's house, one 
incident occurred which was comically unexpected. 
The cry of the mob in those days was " Church and 
King!" and they pretended to consider all Dis- 
senters as disloyal subjects. Dr. Priestley was fond 
of music, and, as a diversion from his mental 
labours, used to grind a small barrel-organ. When 
the rioters had sacked the house, this organ was 
brought out into the garden and put with other 
things to be afterwards carried away. Seeing the 
organ, one of the mob began to turn the handle, 
when to the surprise of all they heard the loyal 
air of '* God Save the King" ! 


Matthew continues — 

"The mob which had begun by attacking Dissenters 
as public enemies, burning down their chapels and their 
houses and making spoil of their goods, soon expanded 
their views, and gave unmistakable signs that the dis- 
tinction between Dissenter and Churchman had had 
its hour, and was to be superseded in favour of the 
doctrine now so well known, ' La propri^t^ c'est un vol/ 
When matters came to this pass, the magistrates swore in 
special constables. My father was one of this body ; and, 
like his comrades, compendiously armed with half a mop- 
stick by way of truncheon, he marched with them to the 
defence of Baskerville House, which was under attack by 
the mob. The special constables at first drove all before 
them, in spite of the immense disparity of numbers ; but 
after a time, becoming separated in the miUe, they sustained 
a total defeat Some were very severely bruised, and one 
died of the injuries which he received. My father, although 
not conscious at the time of having received a blow, could 
not the next morning raise his arm. He was always of 
opinion that if they had had a flag, or some signal of that 
kind, round which they could have rallied, the fortune of 
the day would have been reversed." 

Baskerville House, after being pillaged and 
burnt, was purposely left standing for many years 
to be a disgrace to Birmingham. I well remember 
its desolate appearance. 

The following letter from Dr. Priestley's secretary 
to my father is in our possession : — 

" Mr. Russell presents his compliments to Mr. Hill, and 


sends him, at Dr. Priestley's request, a set of his * Church 
History ' and also qf • Early Opinions,* of which the doctor 
requests Mr. Hill's acceptance as a testimony of his gratitude 
for Mr. Hill's exertions and attentions during the late riots. 
Mr. R. expects to make an addition to the books now sent, 
but is unwilling these should be delayed. 
" Digbeth, Friday, January 13, 1792." 

The two following letters also bear upon this 
period : — 

Sarah Hill {tUe Symonds) to her son T. W. Hill. 

*' Kidderminster, July 27, 1791. 

" Dear Child, 

*'We should be much gratified to receive a 
line from you when you can write with convenience to 
yourself. It will be a particular satisfaction to know that 
the effects of the blow you received upon your arm are 
quite gone off. I was exceedingly anxious about you 
when I heard of the late dreadful commotions in and about 
Birmingham. You won't think I disapprove of your dis- 
interested spirit and ardent desire to succour your friends, 
but I feared you should sustain material injury in endeavour- 
ing to do something where it appeared, by the accounts I 
heard, nothing was to be done, at least nothing to any 
purpose. But you on the spot were more capable of 
judging than persons at a distance, and I am sure you would 
act consistently with principles that I must approve. 

" I think we are much indebted to the kindness of our 
great and gracious Preserver for that protection which you 
and other friends experienced when exposed to so much 
danger from a bigoted outrageous mob. I hope a stop is 

1792.] " CHURCH AND KING " FOLKS. 13 

effectually put to their depredations, and that you will now 
enjoy peace and tranquillity, though you must and will feel 
something of the distressing effects for a considerable 
time. Trade will be injured, and many deprived of those 
opportunities for attending public worship *which they 
lately enjoyed. 

" All unite in love to you. 

" From your affectionate mother, 

"S. Hill." 

Letter from Sarah Hill {afterwards Mrs. 
Williams) to her brother T. W. Hill, written 
in the autumn ^1792. 

"Dear Brother, 

" Having an opportunity of writing post free 
induces me to write a line to thank you for the letter 
we received last night. It was a satisfaction to us to hear 
something of my sister. We had felt anxious about her 
from the reports a week ago of riotous proceedings at 
Birmingham, but I trust you will not have any more serious 

alarms of this kind. By what we hear the C and 

K folks seem disposed to court the friendship of you 

Dissenters in support of the Constitution, etc., etc. I think 
some of them must be ashamed of their former conduct. 

"Parties here seem at present to run high. Three or 
four informations have been sent, we are informed, to 
Mr. Dundas of what one body or another has said against 

the K and Constitewshun. To-day we received a 

paper which summoned the inhabitants to meet in order 
to stop the progress of sedition, and every morning we are 
serenaded with the chorus of 'God save the King,' by 
boys who are passing up and down the street. 


" In the midst of all this bustle, Truth no doubt is 
making its silent progress in the minds of men, and though 
at present apparently clouded with the mists of Ignorance 
and Wickedness, will, in the end, break forth with the greater 
luster. * 

"When I hear or read anything pleasant upon these 
subjects I seem to want my dearest Matthew to partake 
with me, as he used always to do, in the satisfaction and 
joy they afford. At another time, when Bigotry and 
Despotism seem to spread their baleful influence, I can 
rejoice in the hope that he was taken from the evil to come, 
and is gone where * the wicked cease from troubling.' Oh 
may my dear and now only brother and myself be enabled 
to follow him in the path to Heaven ! . . . 

" I use the freedom of a sister and set down what comes 
uppermost ; but, allowing for this freedom, I do not think 
myself authorised to trouble you with bad spelling, bad 
grammar, or, if I can Itelp it, bad sense. Everything of 
this kind I must therefore beg you to pardon, and, at the 
same time, to remember that whenever you will take the 
trouble to point them out to hie I shall think myself 
obliged to you. 

" We depend upon seeing you at Christmas. 

" Yours affectionately, 

'* S. Hill. 

" Saturday night, ii o'clock." 

My mother s maiden name was Lea. Her grand- 
mother was a woman of sterling character. She 
had been left an orphan when a child, and was 
heiress to a considerable property, but her relations 
trying to force her to marry against her inclination, 


she quitted their home, renouncing at the same 
time all claim to her fortune. In the course of time 
she married a man named Davenport, and settled in 

Mrs. Davenport lost her life through her heroic 
exertions at the time of a fever epidemic in Bir- 
mingham. Her eldest daughter showed herself 
worthy of such a mother by her devoted care of 
her younger brothers and sister. She married a 
Mr. William Lea, and died before I was born ; but 
my grandfather, William Lea, I can distinctly re- 
member. Near his house there was a sheet of 
water called the " Moat," which surrounded an old 
mansion. It was associated in my mind with a 
brave act on the part of my grandfather. Some 
years before my birth, William Lea happened to be 
passing, when he saw an angry mob throw an old 
woman into the moat, in the belief that she was 
a witch. In an instant he forced his way through 
the brutal crowd, plunged into the water, and 
rescued the forlorn creature. He was a powerful 
man, arid the mob made no resistance. Mr. Lea 
took the poor woman to his own house and nursed 
her till she had recovered from the effects of her 

My mother inherited her parents' strong cha- 
racter. While yet a child she gave proof of 

i6 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. I. 

courage and sagacity. She was one day on a visit 
at a lady's house when a violent thunderstorm took 
place. Clothes were hanging out in the garden to 
dry, and the lady peremptorily ordered one of her 
maid-servants to go and fetch them in. The maid, 
though terror-stricken, prepared to obey ; but my 
mother, pitying her, volunteered to go herself. 
Not being tall enough to reach the clothes, she was 
compelled to climb up the tree, to which the line 
was fastened, in order to let it down. She had 
scarcely reached the ground in safety, when the 
tree was struck. 

When nursing her mother, who was very ill, the 
little girl was about to pour out some medicine, 
when she perceived something strange either in 
the look or smell of the drug. This she mentioned 
to her mother, but the latter, being in much pain^ 
said impatiently, "Oh, it is sure to be all right, 
child ; give it me at once." On this, her daughter 
began reluctantly to pour out the medicine ; but 
the little delay, caused by her prudent hesitation, 
probably saved her mother's life. At that instant a 
great noise was heard in the hall, which at once 
arrested attention, and the doctor, rushing upstairs 
and into the sick-room, cried out, "Stop!" and, 
snatching up the glass and bottle, declared the 
medicine to be poison. It appeared that his 


assistant, who had compounded it, had made some 
great mistake, which fortunately the doctor had 
discovered just in time. 

My mother, who was distinguished for her com- 
mon sense, always encouraged us, even as young 
children, to overcome timidity. She advised us, 
when we saw anything at night which was alarm- 
ing, to go up to it and touch it. This would 
soon prove to us that there was no cause for 
fear. As a child, she herself had acted in the 
spirit of her own instructions. On one occasion 
a member of a Roman Catholic family told her 
that on Christmas Eve, at midnight, the cows 
went down on their knees. The little girl de- 
termined to ascertain the truth of this statement. 
When the next Christmas Eve arrived she sat up 
till twelve o'clock, and then went out boldly into 
an adjoining field to watch the proceedings of 
the cows. 

When my mother grew up she became, for a 
time, nursery governess to a family named Ander- 
ton, who treated her with affection and respect. 
One day, during the Birmingham riots, she was 
driving with the children in an open carriage, when 
they were stopped by a party of the rioters, who 
insisted on her calling out, "Church and King!" 
This, however, as she was a staunch Liberal and 


i8 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. I. 

Nonconformist, she refused to do, upon which some 
of the men assumed a menacing attitude ; but one 
of them, who seemed to be in authority, called 
out, " Leave her alone ! She is a brave young 
woman;" and the carriage was suffered to pass 

Soon after the termination of the riots she was 
married to my father, Thomas Wright Hill. They 
lived at Birmingham for a few years, then removed 
to Kidderminster, and later on to the neighbour- 
hood of Wolverhampton, where they occupied a 
farmhouse, called " Horsehills," which my father 
had been able to get on low terms owing to the 
place having the reputation of being haunted. 

My father was acting as manager of a brass 
foundry in Wolverhampton, and in that capacity 
had to dismiss a bad workman. The man came 
one evening to the house and asked for Mr. Hill, 
and the servant showed him into the parlour, where 
my father and mother were sitting. The man com- 
plained of his dismissal in a surly, dogged tone, 
and his angry manner alarmed my mother. Look- 
ing keenly at him, she noticed something shining in 
the breast of his coat, and discovered it to be the 
muzzle of a pistol. With ready presence of mind 
she turned to my father and asked him to go up- 
stairs and look at the baby, who she fancied was 

I799-] A BRAVE WIFE. 19 

crying. Directly he had quitted the room my 
mother seized the man by the collar, and exclaiming, 
" You villain ! " pushed him out of the parlour, 
down the passage, and out of the house. He was 
taken so completely by surprise that he attempted 
no resistance. 

In the year 1801 our family quitted Wolver- 
hampton and returned to Birmingham, with a view 
to my father succeeding his friend, Mr. Clark, in 
the management of a school, an occupation better 
suited to his tastes and powers than that in which 
he had hitherto been engaged. He took the house 
called Hilltop, which I have already mentioned as 
my birthplace. 

The removal from Wolverhampton to Birming- 
ham and the change in my father's occupation were 
measures taken on the advice of my mother, who 
in this, as in many other matters, showed the 
sagacity for which she was distinguished. My 
father's income being small and our family 
numerous, her whole energy came into play in 
keeping us all in comfort and respectability. When 
we children were old enough to judge, it was a 
matter of wonder to us how she had accomplished 
this task. It was from her that we inherited our 
ambition to conquer difficulties and to improve our 
position in the world; for my father, although a 

20 FREDERIC HILL, [Chap. I. 

man of much talent, originality, and patriotism, 
certainly was not ambitious. 

An amusing instance of the family wish to be 
foremost was given by Edwin and Rowland when 
children. They determined that their house should 
be the first in the square to open its shutters, and 
the watchman once found them in the road accom- 
plishing this feat at three o'clock in the morning ! 

In proof of my father's originality, I may 
state that he was the first person to propose the 
plan for securing to minorities their fair share 
of Parliamentary representation. This plan has 
become known as Hare's system. I have every 
reason to believe that Mr. Hare (with whom I was 
personally acquainted) and my father came to the 
same conclusion independently of one another. 
The reader will find a detailed account of my 
father's plan in the " Life of Sir Rowland Hill," by 
his nephew. Dr. Birkbeck Hill. 

My father was also the first to propose the 
principle on which the present patent law is based, 
viz. the payment of a moderate sum for a monopoly 
during a certain small period, with a further payment 
for any prolongation of the period. My brother 
Matthew explained this principle to Lord Brougham, 
who became its strong supporter. 

( 21 ) 


1 805-1 8 1 5. 

Childhood — Old customs in Birmingham — Pressgang — Shenstone 
— "Waverley" — Battle of Waterloo — Booth the coiner — 
"Wager of Battel.'' 

One of the first things that I can remember is 
being in a go-cart, and attempting to follow my 
nurse down the cellar steps, and rolling over and 
over till I reached the bottom. I was much 
frightened, but fortunately little hurt. 

I can also recollect at a very early age riding on 
my father's back as he swam to an island in a piece 
* of water called " Roach Pool." 

The next thing which I recall to mind is an 
adventure with our butcher's horse. The animal, 
while tied at our gate waiting for his master, had 
been teased and pelted with stones by street-boys. 
I toddled out of the house, and the irritated horse 
seized me with his teeth and lifted me into the air. 
I seem to have done the best thing I could, for I 
vigorously pummelled his nose, which caused him 


to drop me. On hearing my cries my mother ran 
to my assistance, and found the skin of my chest 
torn and bleeding, but happily no deeper injury 
was inflicted. 

Another of my early reqoUections is being taken 
by my nurse to see the new police cells then in 
course of building. In playfulness I was put into 
one of them, and thus placed for a moment in a 
position in which I had, in after-life as an inspector 
of prisons, to visit thousands of criminals. 

In the year 1810 the Jubilee of King George III. 
was celebrated. I can recollect our school having 
a whole holiday on the occasion. It is remarkable 
that I have lived to see another Royal Jubilee, that 
of our gracious Queen Victoria. 

My father used to give lectures occasionally on 
natural philosophy, and although a young child, 
I was able to take great pleasure in them. The 
lectures were delivered sometimes in our schoolroom, 
sometimes at the Philosophical Institute. My 
brother Rowland acted as assistant on these 
occasions. It was he who prepared the diagrams, 
and when electricity was the subject he employed 
an electrical machine of his own construction. 

I have a clear recollection of one effective 
experiment. The model of a church was placed 
before us with a lightning conductor attached to the 


spire. Presently an imitation thunder-cloud passed 
over the church, but the church stood safe. Then 
the conductor was removed and the thunder-cloud 
was again brought in contact with the spire, which 
this time fell in ruins before us. 

On another occasion my brother delighted us by 
a mimic volcano* 

Again the electrical machine was used to illustrate 
my father's lectures on astronomy. I well remember 
seeing the constellations of Orion, the Great Bear, 
and Cassiopeia's Chair alternately represented by 
tiny sparks of light. 

One night, after delivering a lecture at the Philo- 
sophical Institute, my father brought some scientific 
friends home to supper. The night was dark, and 
he volunteered to lead the way ; but being absorbed 
in the contemplation and discussion of some astro- 
nomical appearance, he led the whole party into 
the waters of "Tycell's Pit," a horsepond in our 
neighbourhood ! 

At the time I am writing of England was at war 
with France, and the pressgang was in full force. 
"Men were kidnapped, literally disappeared, and 
nothing was ever heard of them again. The 
street of a busy town was not safe from such 
pressgang captures, nor yet were dwellers in the 
country more secure, so great was the press for 

24 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. U. 

men to serve in the navy after every great naval 
victory/' It was no wonder that the pressgang 
inspired terror. Well do I remember my dread 
of it. My mother used to send me sometimes on 
errands into Birmingham, and sometimes I went on 
business of my own, such as the purchase of seeds 
or plants for my little garden, of which I was very 
fond. I used to run all the way to the shop and all 
the way back again, fearing lest a pressgang officer 
might pounce upon me at every turn. I did not 
know that I was far too young to be thought of as 
their prey. I have no recollection of mentioning 
my fear to any one. Had I done so it would have 
been quickly relieved. I have since learnt that 
children frequently endure terror in silence. 

When I was about eight or nine years old I had 
an attack of chicken-pox, and was sent afterwards 
for change of air to our relatives the Wagstaffs at 
Kidderminster. The Wagstaffs were kind, but, 
after a time, I found their house rather dull, and 
became wishful to return home. But how was 
this to be accomplished? The cheapest mode of 
transit was by the " Caravan," which plied between 
Kidderminster and Birmingham. The fare was 
a shilling. As my cash in hand amounted to only 
threepence or fourpence, the question was how to 
raise the difference. After some consideration I 


thought I saw a possible way out of my difficulty. 
The family were in the habit of playing cards in 
the evening. Pope Joan was their favourite game 
— with small stakes. I joined the game, venturing 
my halfpence with extreme caution till I had 
made up my shilling, and then firmly declined any 
further risk. The following morning before the 
household were awake I slid out, took my seat in 
the "Caravan," paid my shilling, and arrived at 
home, to the astonishment of my family ! 

I have to confess yet another instance of childish 
gambling. I started a little lottery for my school- 
fellows, the prizes consisting of small prints placed 
between the leaves of a book. Each boy who paid 
a halfpenny was permitted to insert a pin into the 
closed book, and if in so doing he happened to 
divide the leaves at the place where I had inserted 
a print, the print was his. I little thought then of 
the condemnation with which, later in life, I should 
regard such gambling practices. 

Another and more legitimate plan by which I 
contrived to make a little money was the formation 
of a small library, the books of which I let out at 
a cheap rate to my companions. But my grand 
resource was a bank. All unconscious as I was of 
the laws then existing against usury, I advanced little 
sums of money to my schoolfellows at high interest 


The family being in narrow circumstances, we 
children had but little pocket-money, and had to 
eke out our small incomes by work and contrivance. 
My dear mother, who held the family purse, used 
to give me a small allowance for sweeping the 
schoolroom and also for cleaning shoes. 

Another duty assigned to me was that of cleaning 
the chimneys by setting fire to them ; no fear then 
existing of police interference, or of a race of fire- 
engines for a reward. Our house, as I have already 
mentioned, was on the top of a hill, and my ambition 
was to have all the chimneys on fire at the same 
time, so that the conflagration might be seen from 
a great distance. 

I remember on one occasion during Christmas- 
time going out on my own account to sing carols 
in the streets of Birmingham, and thereby earning 
some pence, which I brought home with no small 

My sister Caroline (three years older than myself) 
and I saved up our money for many months, and 
at last were able to purchase Miss Edgeworth's 
" Parent's Assistant." Our edition consisted of six 
small volumes, half-bound, and cost fifteen shillings. 
We procured it by order from London, and its 
arrival gave us unbounded satisfaction. This work, 
together with many others by the same author, 


have given me unceasing pleasure throughout my 
long life. I have lately reperused the story of 
"Simple Susan," which in this, my eighty-eighth 
year, I have read with the fullest enjoyment.* I 
rejoice to say that the love of Miss Edgeworth's 
stories is inherited both by my children and grand- 

Another favourite of my childhood was Mrs. 
Barbauld's "Hymns in Prose." I recollect, how- 
ever, that in. one of them a difficulty occurred to 
me. The author speaks of a united family where 
" if one is sick they mourn together, if one is happy 
they rejoice together." What would they do, I 
thought, if one were sick and another happy at the 
same time ? 

When I was about ten years old I had one of 
the greatest disappointments I ever experienced. 
During the long wars fast-days were appointed, 
and these fast-days served as general holidays. 
For one of these it had been arranged that a barge 
full of holiday-makers (including myself) was to 
go by canal to a place called Tarlibig, where a 
lift had been constructed to serve the purpose of 
a lock. An interesting part of this journey was 
to be the passage of the barge through a long 
tunnel, where there was no towing-path, and where 
• This was written in 1890. — Ed. 

28 FREDERIC HILL, [Chap. n. 

boats were propelled by men lying on their backs 
and pushing with their feet against the roof. It 
was summer-time, and we were to start early in 
the morning, and to be out all day. Each family 
had got ready its share of provisions, and I re- 
member starting from home in high expectation. 
At the gates of the wharf, however, we were met 
by the dismal tidings that an order had been 
received from the canal committee forbidding the 
excursion. No reason was given for this order; 
and it was not till a considerable time afterwards 
that it was found to be religious intolerance, the 
canal directors having learnt that many of the 
intending excursionists were Dissenters. 

In the year 1813 the East India Company's 
monopoly of the importation of tea was abolished. 
I remember the matter being much talked of, and 
people expressing great alarm at the possible effects 
of the change. It was believed that the " Hong 
merchants," as they were called, would be ruined, 
and the tea trade annihilated. Many were the 
groanings over all this ; but the monopoly ceased, 
and from that day no more was heard of the wrongs 
of the Hong merchants. With this exception the 
East India Company continued to eiijoy the 
monoply of trade with the East till the passing 
of the Reform Bill of 1832. 


The winter of 18 13-14 was marked by a long 
and hard frost — the longest and most severe I can 
remember. It began early in December and con- 
tinued till the following March. The Thames was 
frozen over, and so thick was the ice that an ox was 
roasted whole upon it 

Near our house (Hilltop) there was a little 
smithy, to which I often went in the evening to 
watch the blacksmith at his work, though his busi- 
ness consisted only of the monotonous occupation 
of making spurs. The interest which children take 
in watching any creative work has often impressed 
me with the idea that provision should be made 
for their having regular opportunities of witnessing 
such processes. Formerly, I believe, more artisan's 
work was carried on in the open air in England 
than is now the case ; but I was much pleased 
when paying a visit to Antwerp to see the people 
working both in their shops and in the streets, and 
this with a neatness in their persons, materials, and 
tools which made me imagine I was witnessing a 
theatrical performance ! 

How well I remember — as who does not ? — my 
first going to the play. The piece was Macbetky 
and it may be judged how young I must have been 
when I state that, looking down from the gallery, 
I supposed the actors to be all of them children. 


I now began to read Shakespeare for myself. 
My eldest brother Matthew expressed surprise and 
satisfaction at finding me so employed, but his 
pleasure was somewhat modified by my remarking 
" that I left out all the long speeches " ! 

It is curious how a trifling circumstance will 
sometimes remain fixed in the memory. One day 
when Rowland had taken me for a long ramble, 
and we were trudging home somewhat tired, we 
were overtaken by a gentleman in a chaise. He 
pulled up his horse and asked us if we should like 
to have a lift. We gladly accepted his offer, and 
during the drive had a good deal of pleasant talk 
with him. When we reached the place where we 
had to alight we thanked the stranger for his 
kindness, whereupon he answered, *'Pray don't 
thank me ; I would not have been deprived of the 
pleasure of your company for a shilling!'^ We 
thought this a great compliment, and were much 

Shenstone's Leasowes, or the Leasowes, as we 
always called it, was a place of delight to me. 
It is situated about six miles from Birmingham, 
on the way to Hagley. The undulating ground 
was well suited to the poet's purpose, and Shen- 
stone showed himself a true lover of nature, as 
well as a first-rate landscape gardener, by the way 

i8i4.] A HOLIDAY HAUNT. 31 

in which he arranged his grounds. The place 
abounded in beautiful walks, babbling streams, 
waterfalls, grottoes, and pretty points of view, 
where seats were placed for the convenience of 
visitors. Some of the seats had well- chosen lines 
of poetry placed over them, others were dedicated 
to Shenstone's friends. 

I never inquired as to the extent of the Leasowes, 
for I should have regarded such an inquiry as an 
attempt to reduce poetry to prose. Moreover, 
there was nothing in the place to suggest such 
an inquiry, for though no artifice was apparent, 
no boundary could be seen. 

Excursions to the Leasowes, with some of my 
brothers, sisters, and schoolfellows, carrying our 
dinner with us and spending the whole day there, 
were always looked forward to and enjoyed with 
a keen relish. 

The following epitaph on Shenstone was said 
to have been written by a Frenchman : — 

" Beneath this plain stone 
Lies William Shenstone ; 
His Leasowes rurais 
Give recreations plurals '* 

I well recollect witnessing the ascent of an air- 
balloon from Birmingham Heath, where a great 
crowd had assembled to see so unusual a sight. 


The aeronaut was a Mr. Sadler, possibly the same 
whose balloon in 1 785 was the first to ascend from 
Birmingham. The day was fine, and the appear- 
ance of the balloon, as it rose up into the air, with 
the sun shining upon it, was to me grand and 
beautiful. Its safe descent was announced to us 
some hours later by the arrival of a messenger in 
a post-chaise and four. 

Dr. Darwin has well described such a scene in 
his "Botanic Garden," when speaking of Mont- 
golfier's balloon — 

** So on the shoreless air the intrepid Gaul 
Launched the vast concave of his buoyant ball ; 
Journeying on high the silken castle glides 
Bright as a meteor through the azure tides." 

My brother Arthur (five years older than myself) 
and I slept in the same dormitory. After we were 
all in bed he used frequently to relate one of the 
tales in the " Arabian Nights* Entertainment." He 
told the stories well, and we were all much interested ; 
so much so that it was a wonder to me, when his 
voice became drowsy, how such stirring matter 
could possibly allow of his being inclined for sleep ! 

My chief companions and schoolfellows, besides 
my youngest brother Howard, were Edmund Clark, 
Howard Luckock, and Samuel Thornton. Edmund 
Clark was a boy of talent and genuine humour, and 

i8i4.] YOUNG ACTORS. 33 

was a general favourite. He became, ultimately, a 
barrister with prospects of success, but illness under- 
mined his constitution and brought him to an early 
grave. Howard Luckock and Samuel Thornton 
were kind-hearted and pleasant companions. Both 
lived to an advanced age, but of all the four I am 
the only survivor. 

When I was about twelve years old, some plays 
written by Arthur were performed in our large 
schoolroom. The scenery, which I remember re- 
garding with great admiration, was designed and 
painted by Rowland. I recollect, especially, a 
skeleton wood scene which I was employed to 
cut out. 

On one occasion we acted Miss Edgeworth's 
spirited drama of Eton Montem. The part of 
"Talbot" was taken by Samuel Beale, who after- 
wards became distinguished in relation to railways 
and as member of Parliament for Derby. The 
part of " Rory O'Ryan " was assigned to Edmund 
Clark. I myself played that of " Wheeler." 

My mother had occasion, at rare intervals, to 
go to London. When on one of these visits she 
joined a party of friends in a boating excursion 
upon the Thames. In those days old London 
Bridge was still standing. Its arches were numer- 
ous and very narrow; their piers, consequently, 



much impeded the passage of the stream, so that 
at mean tide the water rushed through them with 
great velocity. The watermen were proud of ac- 
complishing the feat of " shooting London Bridge," 
but the danger of such an undertaking can readily 
be imagined. Indeed, there is an old proverb to 
the effect that " London Bridge was made for wise 
men to go over, and fools to go under." 

My mother suddenly became aware, when it was 
too late for remonstrance, that they were fast 
approaching one of its narrow arches. At the 
same moment she observed the boatman take 
from his breast a "caul," the sailors charm 
against drowning. Her usual courage did not 
forsake her. She sat calm and collected till the 
danger was past I well recollect her relating this 

Margate and Aberystwyth were the two sea- 
side places of resort most accessible, in those days, 
from Birmingham. My mother visited both oc- 
casionally with some of the children. The journey 
from London to Margate was performed by water 
in the Margate Hoy, as the vessel was called. If 
the wind were adverse, the journey frequently 
occupied as much as three days or even more ; the 
captain always carrying provisions for that time. 
I have heard my mother speak of the monotonous 


cry of the seaman as he reported the soundings — 
*' Five fathoms and a large half twain." 

My mother had a decided taste for music, but 
the only indulgence of this taste she allowed 
herself was attendance at the triennial Musical 
Festivals in Birmingham. These she greatly 

I well recollect the publication of "Waverley," 
the first of Walter Scott's admirable series of novels, 
in the autumn of 18 14. My uncle Thomas Lea, 
who lived in Scotland, used to send us the books 
as they appeared. They came by sea (the cheapest 
mode of transit). As soon as they arrived they 
were read aloud to eager listeners. 

Another event connected with the year 18 14 
stands out clear in my memory; this was the 
general rejoicings in Birmingham in honour of the 
peace concluded by the allied powers upon 
Napoleon's abdication at Fontainebleau, previous to 
his being sent as a prisoner to the Island of Elba. 
The whole town was illuminated, and we boys did 
what we could on the occasion. My brother 
Rowland prepared a transparency, which was put 
up in front of our house with lights behind it. If 
I remember rightly, it represented the figure of 

The peace, as is well known, was of but short 


duration. Napoleon made his escape from Elba, 
and the episode of the hundred days ensued. 

The very name of '* Boney " had long been a 
bugbear to me and my young companions. I 
could gather from the conversation of the elders 
that there was always an apprehension of invasion, 
and preparations for such an event went on around 
me. A stout band of volunteers was being formed 
in Birmingham, and my father had all his pupils, 
as well as his own sons, drilled ; for he considered 
it the duty of every man and boy in the united 
kingdom to qualify himself to defend his country. 
I used to hear many expressions of defiance of the 
French, and of faith in the patriotism and courage 
of the English, 

Well do I remember the arrival in Birmingham 
of the news of the victory of Waterloo. Every one 
was aware that a great battle must be taking place, 
and while the result was yet unknown, we were 
all on the tiptoe of eager expectation. On the 
morning of the day when decisive news was ex- 
pected, many people stationed themselves far out 
on the London road to get the first view of the 
approaching mail-coach. When at last it dashed 
into Birmingham, covered with waving boughs of 
laurel, there was a great shout of joy and triumph. 

It is difficult, in our present times of peace, to 

iSisJ " WARWICK 'SIZES."" 37 

realize how long those wars had lasted, and what 
a relief to the whole country was caused by their 

I remember my father's telling me, when he was 
about . "Seventy years of age, that during one half 
of his whole life this country had been at war. 

By one of the many changes which have taken 
place since I was a boy, Birmingham has been 
relieved of the necessity of sending its prisoners for 
trial to Warwick. In those days, and indeed till 
long afterwards, one might hear boys in the streets, 
at the close of the Assizes, calling out, " Here's a 
full, true, and particular account of all the criminal 
prisoners that was tried, cast, quit, and condemned 
before my Lord Judge at Warwick 'Sizes ! " 

In the year 1815 I saw two men standing in the 
pillory in the Birmingham market-place. 

It was several years later than the period I am 
writing of that I went to see Warwick Gaol. In 
the large yard, where the prisoners passed most of 
the day, I beheld a considerable number of men 
walking about, unemployed, and all of them in 
chains. There was a dungeon many feet beneath 
this yard, where the wretched prisoners passed the 
night still in chains. 

During times of dearth bread riots were common, 
followed by attacks on bakers, hucksters, and 

38 ' FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. IL 

farmers. On one occasion there was a curious 
attempt of the mob to fix the rate of prices. A 
body of men seized on the loads of potatoes brought 
into the Birmingham market, and their leaders, 
having fixed on a price which they considered 
proper, though much below the actual value, they 
sold all the potatoes accordingly, and handed over 
the proceeds to the owners. The result of this 
proceeding was that for a whole month afterwards 
not another potato was brought to the Birmingham 
market, and the article could not be obtained at 
any price. 

Rick-burning and the destruction of machinery 
were of frequent occurrence. An ignorance of 
political economy which led, in part, to these 
offences was not confined to the class which made 
the attacks, for it disgraced the Statute Book, as 
shown by the law declaring the practice of " fore- 
stalling and regrating" (buying goods on the way 
to market and reselling them) to be illegal. The 
judges, when passing sentence on any one convicted 
of these practices, used to dwell on the enormity 
of the prisoner's offence. 

In my youth there lived, on Birmingham Heath, 
a man named Booth, who, to the knowledge of every 
one, carried on the trade of uttering false money, 
both coins and banknotes. The feeble police had 


several times attempted his arrest, but in vain. He 
had built himself a house which he had strongly 
fortified, and it was not till a detachment of cavalry 
was brought into action that his career was stopped, 
and he was brought to trial, convicted, and hanged. 
In 181 7 a murder was committed in Birmingham 
which excited a widespread sensation. On the 
26th of May, a beautiful young woman named Mary 
Ashford, in her twentieth year, went to a dance at 
Erdington without proper protection. She left the 
festive scene at a late hour, accompanied by a young 
man named Abraham Thornton, a farmer*s son in 
the neighbourhood. They were last seen talking 
together at a stile, but next morning she was found 
dead in a pit of water ; and there were fearful 
evidences that she had been murdered. General 
suspicion pointing to Thornton ; he was arrested and 
tried for murder at Warwick Assizes in August; 
but, though strong circumstantial evidence was given 
against him, the defence, which was an alibi, obtained 
a verdict of " Not guilty." The feeling of surprise 
and indignation at his acquittal was so intense that 
a new trial was called for, and an appeal was entered 
against the verdict by William Ashford, the brother 
and next of kin to the murdered girl. Thornton 
was again apprehended and sent to London in 
November, to be tried before EUenborough and the 

40 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. H. 

full Court of Queen's Bench. Instead of regular 
defence in arguments, evidences, and witnesses, 
Thornton boldly defied all present modes of juris- 
diction, and claimed his right, according to ancient 
custom, to challenge his accuser to fight him, and 
decide his innocence or guilt by the " Wager of 
Battel." His answer to the question of the court 
was, " Not guilty, and I am ready to defend the 
same by my body." He accompanied these words 
by the old act of taking off his glove and throwing 
it down upon the floor of the court. At this stage 
of the proceedings, William Ashford, who was in 
court, actually came forward, and was about to 
accept the challenge by picking up the glove, when 
he was kept back by those about him. 

With what wonder did the assembly, and indeed 
the nation, ask, " Can a prisoner insist upon so 
obsolete a mode of trial in such a time of light as 
the nineteenth century ? " But with greater wonder 
and regret was the judgment of the court received ; 
for, after several adjournments, it was decided in 
April, 1818, that the law of England was in favour 
of " Wager of Battel ; " that the old law sanctioning 
it had never been repealed ; and that, though this 
mode of trial had become obsolete, it must be 
allowed. Thornton was therefore set at liberty. 

At the beginning of the next Session of Parlia- 

i8i70 " WAGER OF BATTEU* 41 

ment, the Attorney-General brought in a bill for the 
abolition of this monstrous process of " Wager of 
Battel," which of course was passed. 

William Ashford lived till 1867, ^ strange link 
with the Middle Ages and their romancers. 




Country awakening to need of Parliamentary Reform — Major 
Cartwright— M. D. Hill— Hazelwood— " Public Education " 
— Montague Villiers, Bishop of Durham — Jeremy Bentham 
— Wilberforce — ^Thelwall — Hone — Thomas Campbell — De 
Quincey, etc. — ^The elder Charles Matthews — Dr. Parr — 
Henry Brougham. 

The year 18 16 was very wet and bad for agricul- 
ture. The corn did not ripen properly, and I can 
remember that our bread was marked by streaks, 
showing Its unwholesome quality. The price of 
wheat rose to a hundred shillings the quarter. Great 
distress prevailed, greater than can be readily 
imagined in these days of free trade and easy 
access to the stores of foreign countries. But a 
new hope was gradually gaining around — ^the hope 
of Parliamentary Reform. Far off indeed, seemed 
the possibility of its accomplishment, but many 
stout-hearted men were working for that end. 

Hampden Clubs had already been formed in almost 
every town of importance, with the express object of 


fostering a desire for reform and educating the 
people in politics. This was not done, however, 
without violent opposition from the Tories, and 
on February 17, 18 17, a Secret Committee of the 
House of Commons urged Government to break up 
the clubs. The time, however, for such arbitrary 
acts had passed by, and the clubs were not interfered 

The members of the Birmingham Hampden Club, 
of which Mr. George Edmonds was chairman, sent 
a requisition to the High Bailiff of Birmingham on 
the 20th of January, to call a meeting of the in- 
habitants to 

"declare to the Legislature the unexampled distress in 
which the people were involved, and to petition that 
every practical retrenchment in the national expenditure 
might be made as a mode of present alleviation, and that 
a Reform in the House of Commons should be instituted 
without further delay as the best security against similar 
calamities in future." 

The High Bailiff refused to call the meeting. 
The members then began to consider the question 
as to whether they should call the meeting 
on their own responsibility. No large gathering 
had taken place in Birmingham since the riots of 
1 79 1, when the popular feeling was fiercely anti- 
democratic. Could the people be trusted, at a time 


of national distress and excitement, to maintain 
order ? 

I well remember Mr. George Edmonds coming 
to our house to talk the matter over with my father 
and my elder brothers, and their all being strongly 
in favour of holding the meeting. Soon afterwards 
it was convened in an announcement, which was 
preceded by a copy of the requisition, to the follow- 
ing effect: — 

"The High Bailiff having refused to comply with the 
above requisition, we, the undersigned inhabitants of 
Birmingham, do invite our fellow-townsmen to meet on 
Wednesday next, January 22, 1817, on the open ground 
to the left of St Paul's Square, called Newhall Hill, to 
take into consideration the important objects of the 

" The chair will be taken at twelve o'clock" 

Here follow forty-eight signatures ; among them 
is that of my brother Edwin. 

The meeting was held, and although it was attended 
by a great concourse of people, no disorder occurred. 
I can recall the striking effect of the sea of black 
hats as seen from the speakers' platform. Mr. 
Edmonds, as well as many other friends of Reform, 
spoke eloquently and were listened to with a profound 
attention broken only by cheers. A petition in 
favour of Parliamentary Reform was adopted, and 
ordered to be presented to the House of Commons 


by Peter Moore and Joseph Butterworth, members 
for Coventry. 

Two years later a still more important meeting 
was held by the Reformers on Newhall Hill. This 
took place on the 20th of July, 18 19. The leaders 
on this occasion were Major Cartwright, Messrs. 
Edmonds, Wooler, Maddocks, and Lewis. A reso- 
lution was passed to elect Sir Charles Wolseley 
as the " legislatorial attorney and representative " 
in Parliament of the town of Birmingham. This 
was done as a protest against the gross injustice 
of leaving large towns unrepresented, while a great 
portion of the House of Commons was elected by 
close and rotten boroughs. Wooler, in the course 
of his speech, observed 

''that their petitions had hitherto been easily disposed 
of, but that byembod)dng the principle and sending up Sir 
Charles Wolseley instead of the petition, the task of the 
honourable House would not be quite so easy. They will 
not," he added, " be able to lay Sir Charles so quietly upon 
, the table nor under the table.*' 

Sir Charles Wolseley accepted the post offered 
to him. The Government became alarmed, and 
resolved to prosecute Major Cartwright and his 
friends for sedition. Meanwhile, at a great meeting 
held in Peter's Field, Manchester, a most arbitrary 
act was perpetrated by the yeomanry in firing upon 

46 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. ni. 

the assembled crowd, although no offence had been 
committed. Six persons were killed and a large 
number wounded. This was known afterwards as 
the ** Manchester Massacre." It aroused a strong 
feeling of indignation throughout the country. 

In the autumn of this same year (1819) my 
brother Matthew was " called " to the Bar. A few 
months later he was retained for the defence of 
Major Cartwright, who, together with the other 
leaders of the Newhall Hill meeting, was brought 
to trial on a charge of sedition. My brother was 
cautioned by some of his fellow-barristers that, if 
he accepted this retainer, he must give up all hope 
of rising in his profession, for he would always 
have the Bench against him. Matthew, however, 
acting on a feeling of duty, stood firm and accepted 
the proposed brief. 

" The trial took place at Warwick at the summer assizes 
of 1820. The jury was, of course, special ; and such was 
the character attributed to these bodies, that Sir Francis 
Burdett had recently declared, ' according to the prevalent 
manner of constituting special juries, he believed that Abel 
would be convicted of the murder of Cain, if such were the 
issue proposed for trial.* It is not surprising, therefore, 
that, in spite of an eloquent defence on the part of the 
counsel for the accused, a verdict of * guilty ' was returned 
against all the defendants. The verdict was appealed 
against, and the case came on some months later before 


the Court of King's Bench. Matthew's speech upon the 
' infamous practice of packing juries ' made a powerful im- 
pression. Finally, judgment was again given against the 
defendants. Major Cartwright was fined a hundred 
pounds without imprisonment^ the others being sentenced 
to various periods of detention in Warwick Gaol. 

"Before he left the court, Major Cartwright produced 
from one of the pockets of his waistcoat, which he wore of 
an unusual size, a large canvas bag. From this he slowly 
counted one hundred pounds in gold, observing that he 
believed they were all ^good sovereigns.* " * 

In 1 8 19 our family moved from Hilltop in Bir- 
mingham to the neighbouring village of Edgbaston. 
I may here mention our various occupations at this 
period. Edwin, who came next in age to Matthew, 
posessed decided mechanical talent He was aiding 
our friend Mr. Phipson in the management of a 
rolling-mill. Rowland and Arthur were engaged in 
the school, while Caroline assisted her mother in 
domestic affairs. I came next to Caroline. For 
three years past I had been an assistant teacher. 
On my reaching the mature age of thirteen, Row- 
land had decided that my schoolboy life must 
come to an end, and that I must now assist in 
the instruction of others; such were the necessi- 
ties of the family. In spite of my youth, I felt 

• See " Memoir of M. D. Hill," by his daughters, R. and 
F. Davenport HilL 


much interest in the school and in the improve- 
ments in its management which were introduced. 
At about the same age (thirteen or fourteen) I 
taught arithmetic in Miss Chubb's "School for 
Young Ladies/' The girls worked separately, and 
I remember I walked round and overhauled their 
calculations. If they thought me an impudent 
fellow, they did not give vent to their opinion. 

Younger than myself were my brother Howard, 
my special companion, and my sister Sarah. Both 
these, unhappily, died in early life. 

At Edgbaston we had built a more commodious 
school-house, on plans made by Rowland, which we 
named Hazelwood ; hence the appellation of the 
" Hazelwood System." 

To Rowland is chiefly due the honour of found- 
ing the system. Its most prominent features were : 
(i) self-government and mutual responsibility ; 
making the school, in fact, an enlightened re- 
public ; (2) fixed standards of merit instead of com- 
petition as a test of success ; (3) the abolition of all 
arbitrary punishments (including corporal punish- 
ment), for which natural penalties were instituted.* 

A striking instance of the good result of follow- 
ing a boy's natural bent was afforded in the case 

• For detailed account of the Hazelwood System, see " Life of 
Sir Rowland Hill," by Dr. Birkbeck HilL 


of my friend, Mr. FoUet Osier, F.R.S., the well- 
known glass manufacturer, a successful student of 
several branches of science, and the inventor of the 
anemometer. His father was wedded to the old 
plan of education, and wished his son's training to 
be purely classical ; but seeing the boy's scientific 
talents so much developed at Hazelwood, he happily 
abandoned his original plan. 

The Honourable Montagu Villiers (afterwards 
Bishop of Durham) spoke, at the school distribution 
of testimonials in the year 1846, of his own im- 
pression of our system of education, and expressed 
great gratitude for its benefits. He said that 

"when he first came to Hazelwood he had few thoughts 
beyond self; that he found a very different feeling pervading 
the community of which he had suddenly become a member 
— the boys aiding one another, the elder ones assisting the 
younger, and all receiving constant assistance and kindness 
from the conductor and teachers. He learnt, for the first 
time, what responsibility was, and what powerful motives 
it might give to the performance of good acts." 

In 1822 Matthew, assisted by Rowland and 
Arthur, brought out a book entitled " Public Edu- 
cation," which made the novel plans of our Hazel- 
wood System generally known. 

Matthew sent a copy to Jeremy Bentham, and 
so interested was the great philosopher in the work 



that he invited the author to come and see him. 
This was the more flattering, as Bentham's society 
was sought by persons of distinction of all nations, 
but few obtained access to him. From this time, 
for four or five years, Matthew usually dined with 
Bentham once a week. 

" In conversation with his host he learnt that Bentham 
obtained from Dr. Priestley the doctrine which he made the 
basis of his writings, namely, that the object of all govern- 
ment and of all social institutions should be — ' the greatest 
happiness of the greatest number for the greatest length 
of time.'"* 

** Public Education " was reviewed largely by 
the newspapers and magazines of the day, but an 
article which appeared in the Edinburgh Review 
was especially instrumental in arousing a keen 
interest in our school. The book was translated 
into several foreign languages. 

" The result was that crowds of persons came from the 
Continent and from all parts of the British Isles to inspect 
the school, some of whom remained many days on the 
spot, or returned again and again to familiarize themselves 
with the system it described. New institutions, on the 
model of Hazelwood, were established. One of these, 
opened in the neighbourhood of Stockholm — named, after 
the founders of Hazelwood, * Hillska Skola ' — acquired 

• See " Memoir of M. D. Hill." ' 


high repute. Pupils from abroad, then far more rare in 
England than at the present day, sought admission at 
Hazelwood. Through Bentham's influence several youths 
were sent from Greece to be trained in the principles of 
liberty. Many came also from the new Republic of South 
America, then throwing off the bonds of Spain." * 

We had, indeed, applications to receive many 
more pupils than it was possible for us to 

Taking the names of some of the visitors to 
Hazelwood, as well as I can recollect, in the order 
of their arrival, they were Mr. Thelwall, Mr. Hone, 
the poet Campbell, De Quincey, Wilberforce, 
Joseph Hume, Lord Clarendon, Mr. and Mrs. 
Grote, and Ramahoun Roy. 

Mr. Thelwall told us the story of his trial for 
high treason, his life depending on the issue. He 
described the eagerness with which he scanned 
the face of each juryman as he ascended the steps 
to the jury-box, and his sudden feeling of relief 
and security as he saw one whose open, honest, 
and intelligent countenance satisfied him that he 
would be no party to an unjust verdict. 

Mr. Hone, well known for his parodies and 

political caricatures, was an excellent narrator, and 

he thrilled us all by his account of Eliza Penning 

(a poor housemaid, charged with an attempt to 

♦ See " Memoir of M. D. Hill." 


poison her mistress), her trial before the Recorder 
of London, John Sylvester (known by the sobriquet 
of *' Black Jack "), her conviction on the flimsiest 
evidence, and her condemnation and execution. 

It will be remembered that Hone himself was 
brought to trial on a charge of blasphemy in rela- 
tion to his parodies. The presiding judge on the 
first day's trial was Mr. Justice Abbot, who was 
mild and fair; but on a verdict of ** Not guilty" 
being returned, the imperious Chief Justice, Lord 
EUenborough, took his place, in the full expecta- 
tion, probably, that he should be able to bully the 
jury into a verdict of "Guilty." He treated Hone 
with haughty sternness, not even allowing him to 
sit down, although he was ill, and had to conduct 
his own case. This circumstance, however, Hone 
declared, so roused his indignation as to give him, 
for the time, unwonted strength. The result of 
the second day s trial was again a verdict of " Not 
guilty;" and when the Government, in despair, 
abandoned the case, it was stated that Lord Ellen- 
borough felt deeply mortified, and took the matter 
so much to heart that his health was affected. 
Letters written at this time by Lord EUenborough 
to ^*ord Sidmouth bear out this theory. In any 
case, there is no doubt that a year afterwards 
Lord EUenborough died. His funeral procession, 


1824.] A POET ON HIS POETRY. 53 

curiously enough, passed by Hone's house on the 
anniversary of the trial, and it was reported that 
Hone rose from his seat and let down the blinds. 

In later life Hone became a zealous Methodist. 

De Quincey, who wrote an excellent review on 
" Public Education " in the London Magazine^ also 
visited Hazelwood. 

The venerable Wilberforce, whose noble and 
careworn countenance I well remember, was prin- 
cipally attracted by the extent of freedom which 
was allowed to the boys. 

Thomas Campbell dined one day at our house. 
Something in the course of conversation caused my 
father to quote his guest's well-known line — ; 

" Coming events cast their shadows before," 

observing at the same time that it had always 
struck him as a beautiful conception, both true in 
fact and highly poetic. Campbell responded that 
he considered that line as one of the best, if not 
the very best, he had ever written. Glancing at 
Sir Walter Scott's " Life," I see that he too admired 
this particular line; and quoting it to Washington 
Irving, said, " What a grand idea is that ! " 

Campbell delivered a series of lectures in Bir- 
mingham. One of these I heard, and greatly 
enjoyed. Among the auditors on that occasion 


was Maria Edgeworth, whom I then, for the only 
time in my life, had the pleasure of seeing. A 
few years later her friend, Captain Basil Hall, 
visited Hazelwood, and gave the boys an interest- 
ing lecture upon the nature of the trade-winds, 
introducing a spirited account of some of his adven- 
tures at sea. 

About this period we had become acquainted 
with Colonel Nichol. This gentleman had seen a 
great deal of service, having been in more than a 
hundred battles. He had travelled so much as to 
have visited almost every part of the world. He 
had been governor of Ascension Island, which was 
garrisoned when Napoleon was a prisoner at St. 
Helena. The island was without water, but Colonel 
Nichol, by boring through the rock, obtained a 
good supply. To this day ships call at Ascension 
Island for water. New Zealand he knew well — a 
country at that time very little frequented. He 
spoke highly of its qualifications as a place of 
residence, especially with regard to climate, being 
free from all extremes of heat and cold. So much, 
indeed, had he been struck with the advantages of 
the country, that he, together with some fellow- 
officers, determined, if possible, to make a settle- 
ment there. At the close of the great continental 
war in 1815, Colonel Nichol and his friends made 



an application to Government for a very moderate 
sum of ready money to enable them to carry out 
their project, undertaking at the same time, in 
lieu of this, to forego their claims to half-pay. But 
" red-tapism," which even now has not ceased to 
exist, caused their offer to be curtly refused. Had 
it been accepted it would have caused a material 
saving to the Government 

Another of our acquaintances was Dr. Blair, 
whose character was a counterpart, to some extent, 
of " Forester," in Miss Edgeworth's admirable 
story bearing that name. His mother was a lady 
of property, who kept a closed carriage, a luxury 
which was then very uncommon in Birmingham. 
She wished her son to ride in it, but he always 
preferred walking, trudging along with his sturdy 
stick, or rather club. His mother sometimes gave 
directions to her coachman to walk the horses by 
his side, in the hope that, for very shame, he would 
get into the carriage ; but this he persistently 
refused to do. 

On one occasion, when we were desirous of 
assisting a friend in obtaining some medical appoint- 
ment, we applied to Dr. Blair to compose our 
circular. He good-naturedly undertook the task, 
but his scholarly precision soon brought him to a 
standstill. He confessed he could not make up his 


mind whether at one part of the document he should 
use the word "that'* or the word "which." As 
despatch was important, one of us was obliged to 
take the work from the doctor's hands. 

Dr. Blair was a great chess-player, as was also 
my father, and the two used sometimes to play 
together far into the night. Indeed, on one occasion, 
when the servant came downstairs in the morning 
to open the shutters, she found the two gentlemen, 
wholly unaware of the passage of time, still engrossed 
in their game. 

Another anecdote connected with my father we 
heard from an intimate friend of the elder Charles 
Mattnews, named Hamilton Reynolds. It was 
Mr. Matthews' practice, when performing in his 
"At Homes," to look round the theatre for some 
especially responsive listener. He told Mr. Reynolds 
that there had been an elderly gentleman in the 
Birmingham Theatre who showed the keenest 
enjoyment, and had a remarkably hearty and 
sonorous laugh. He added, " I could act anything 
to that old gentleman. I would give him five 
pounds a night if he would come always." On 
comparing time and place, the "old gentleman" 
proved to be my father. 

Our family were acquainted with the celebrated 
Dr. Parr. I was very young at that time, but I 


remember once to have seen him. My eldest 
brother, who knew him best, used to tell us of his 
sayings and doings. The doctor was a great 
stickler for the observance of old customs, and, in 
virtue of this feeling, he always had an assembly of 
his parishioners in the grounds of his rectory on 
May Day, and there was much dancing round the 
Maypole and other amusements, the doctor being 
always present and a delighted observer. On one 
of these occasions he was seated with a tankard of 
ale before him, and he called to a little chimney- 
sweep and said, " Tell the people Dr. Parr drinks 
their good health ; " upon which the little fellow 
mounted on a chair and piped at the top of his 
voice, " People ! people ! me and Dr. Parr drinks 
your good health ! " 

On another occasion, at a dinner-party, a young 
minister having spoken in disparaging terms of 
Hume, the historian, Dr. Parr called to Mr. Joseph 
Parkes, "Joe, did you hear that? Don't tell 
anybody ! " 

Dr. Parr stood up for the old practice of school- 
flogging. At a large dinner-party the same young 
man was laying down the law against it. The 
doctor, unable to restrain himself, cried out, "Sir, 
it is flogging which makes the scholar, it is flogging 
which makes the soldier, it is flogging which makes 


the Statesman, and it is the want of flogging which 
makes you — what you are ! " 

But the best and most honourable of Dr. Parr's 
utterances was at a public dinner at Birmingham at 
the time of the riots of 179 1. The toast of " Church 
and King*' having been proposed, the doctor rose, 
and, turning his glass upside down, exclaimed in a 
loud voice, though the words might have cost him 
his life, " I will not drink that toast ; it means a 
Church without the gospel, and a king above the law.*' 

My brother Matthew, who had joined the Midland 
Circuit, used to regale us, from time to time, with 
stories of odd evidence, strange verdicts, mock-trials 
for breaches of professional etiquette, and the 
sayings and doings of Bench and Bar. 

The senior barrister of the Midland Circuit was 
a Kings Counsel named Clarke, a dull speaker, 
though he was often successful in gaining verdicts. 
In a trial in which he was engaged he thought that 
there ought to be a reference instead of the case 
being decided by the Court, but the solicitor came 
to say that his client would not agree to a reference. 
Upon this Mr. Clarke told the solicitor to bring the 
man to him, and then said to him, " Sir, you are a 
d — d fool, and if you don't consent to a reference 
I shall use strong language." 

On one occasion Henry Brougham, having come 


down to Warwick " Special," Mr. Clarke, who was 
opposed to him, had the temerity to make him the 
butt of his own poor wit. Brougham in reply 
began, ** My lord, for a full half-hour have I been , 
exposed to the shafts of my learned friend's wit, 
and that is no laughing matter." » 

Matthew used to tell a melancholy story of a 
series of lawsuits coming on year after year, which 
had their origin in a bitter feeling of hostility 
between the wives of the rector and the squire 
of the same parish, the two husbands being dragged 
into the fray. The first offence was given by the 
squire's lady, who, in speaking of a dinner at the 
rectory, described the soup-tureen as "scanty," an 
expression which was regarded by the rector's 
spouse as a reflection on her hospitality. The feud 
thus begun took various shapes. Sometimes the 
right to possess a small piece of valueless ground 
was contested, or some other matter equally 
contemptible; but, however worthless the cause, 
the disputants were continually coming into court. 
The poor rector was compelled to sell, one by one, 
almost every valuable possession, then, in effect, to 
mortgage his living, and finally was brought to 
utter ruin. The struggle ended in both rector and 
squire being confined in Northampton prison for 
debt at the suit of the solicitors. 


I 824-1 830. 

Visits to France and Guernsey — Benjamin Constant — Monsieur 
d'Argenson — D. de Lisle Brock — Society for the Diffusion 
of Useful Knowledge — Charles Knight — Professor Cowper 
— Catholic Emancipation. 

In the year 1824 I had a short tour in France with 
my brother Rowland. We went first to Boulogne 
to visit an old acquaintance, Monsieur Chevalier, 
who had lived many years in Birmingham as a 
teacher of French. Originally he had been brought 
to England as a prisoner of war ; but when the war 
was over, and he was set at liberty, he came to live 
at Birmingham, where, in due time, he fell in love 
with an English lady and married her. This lady 
had a claim to a valuable estate, and the prosecution 
of this claim was one of the first lawsuits in which 
my brother Matthew was engaged. The suit 
continued long with varying success, but at last the 
two parties concerned agreed to divide the property. 
Monsieur Chevalier acquired a full knowledge of 


our language, and became fluent in its use. He 
was even heard to declare that if he had to address 
an audience whom he wished to convince, he would 
rather speak to them in English than in French, 
owing to the greater force of the English language. 
This statement coming from a Frenchman was 
certainly remarkable. 

While at Boulogne we went to* see the column 
which Buonaparte, with the vanity and impudence 
which were two of his characteristics, had erected 
to commemorate his expected conquest of England. 
Desiring to ascend the edifice, we looked about for 
the person in charge, and found the following notice 
for the information of English travellers : " The 
keys of this column find themselves all around the 

At an inn not far from Paris the owner sold 
English stout, which was thus advertised : " Ici on 
vende le strong^ 

It would seem that the French are still content 
to make use of very imperfect English translations ; 
for, more than forty years later than the period of 
which I am writing, a nephew of mine, when 
travelling in France, saw this notice put up in a 
railway carriage : " It is defended to put no heads 
and no hands out of no windows." 

I was one day riding in a diligence when the 


passengers, supposing that I did not understand 
their language, began to talk about me. One of 
them remarked that I was evidently a sulky 
Englishman, and that he would lay a wager that 
if we travelled together a hundred miles I should 
not utter a word. Preserving silence until we 
approached the place where I intended to alight, 
I suddenly gave them a volley of French. Their 
horror-stricken countenances and apparent efforts 
to recall what they had said were most amusing. 

During our stay in Paris there was a debate in 
the Chamber of Deputies. We had no difficulty 
in procuring good seats, the accommodation for 
visitors being greatly superior to that provided in 
our own House of Commons. This was particularly 
the case, I observed, with regard to ladies. 

When we entered, financial matters were under 
consideration which seemed to excite little interest 
Large sums of money were voted away with scarcely 
an observation; but at length the debate became 
personal, on the question of whether one of the 
speeches delivered should, or should not, be printed. 
All apathy at once disappeared, and gave way to 
an angry and animated discussion. Amongst those 
who offered themselves as speakers was the well- 
known politician, Benjamin Constant. He began 
to mount the steps of the rostrum, but, being old 

1 826.] A LAME ORATOR. 63 

and lame, his progress was slow; meanwhile a 
younger deputy, opposed to him in politics, ran up 
the steps on the further side, got possession of the 
rostrum, and began to address the assembly. Poor 
Benjamin Constant, unable to get a hearing, was 
obliged to sit down on the steps he was climbing. 
Thus I lost the chance of hearing him speak. 

Rowland and I called upon the Marquis Voyer 
d'Argenson, or, as he preferred to be called. 
Monsieur d'Argenson, who had recently, when in 
England, visited Hazelwood. He received us 
kindly, and afterwards introduced us to the family 
of the Due de Broglie, into which he had married. 
He must, I presume, have been the son of the 
Voyer d'Argenson who, in an early stage of the 
French Revolution, was one of the moderate and 
wise leaders of what was then not a revolutionary 
but a reform movement. 

At the time of our visit to Paris the Rue de la 
Paix was the only street which was provided with 
a footpath. At night the city was lighted by dim 
oil-lamps which were suspended by ropes across 
the streets. 

A couple of years later I paid a second visit to 
France ; this time in company with my brother 
Arthur, We went first to Guernsey and stayed a 
week or so with the head of the Civil Government 


— the " Bailiff," as he is called — our able and 
enlightened friend, Mr. Daniel de Lisle Brock. 

I was much struck with the happy signs of 
abundance, comfort, and contentment in the island ; 
and I wrote a description of its social conditions, 
which afterwards appeared in the Examiner news- 
paper, and from which I quote the following : — 

"Why is it that within so short a distance of places 
where the pining labourer is but half fed and half clad, 
the man of Guernsey should have a well-stored board and 
abundance of clothing ? The climate is not peculiar ; the 
land is not remarkably fertile. How is it, then, that 
Guernsey should be so much ahead in the career of 
happiness? Guernsey has superior laws, superior institu- 
tions. And the state of things is one among the thousand 
proofs that have been given, that the prosperity and 
happiness of a people are much more dependent on its 
laws, institutions, and the manner in which the government 
is carried on, than on climate and fertility of the soil. . . . 

" One of the most striking changes which the visitor, 
whether from England or France, observes on his landing, 
is the entire absence of beggars. A tradesman, who had 
been established at St Peter's Port for upwards of thirty 
years, assured me that during the whole period of his 
residence in the island he had never once seen a beggar. 
For myself I neither saw nor heard of one ; and I was 
satisfied, from all I learned, that a beggar is in Guernsey 
a being of a past age, a creation of history — a fit subject 
for the speculations of the antiquary. . . . 

" There are many causes which co-operate in preventing 
any numerous class of the people of Guernsey from sink- 

1826.] A HAPPY ISLAND. 65 

ing into that state of poverty which leads to crime and 
misery. In the first place, all the necessaries of life are 
exceedingly cheap. Wheat, for instance, during the last 
twenty years has been about two-thirds of its price in 
England I need scarcely say that our Com Laws do 
not extend to Guernsey. 

" In the year 1821, when the rigour of the English Com 
Laws was greatly increased, it was intended to extend 
these laws to Guernsey and the other Norman Isles ; but 
the inhabitants bestirred themselves, and succeeded in 
warding off this terrible blow to their prosperity. For 
their success in this struggle they were, in a g^eat measure, 
indebted to the exertions of Mr. Brock, of Guernsey. 

" The people of the Norman Isles are not only allowed 
to import corn for their own use, from wheresoever they 
choose, but are permitted to export all the com they grow 
themselves to England ; so that there is the singular 
anomaly, constantly going on, of corn from the Baltic, 
sailing by the coast of England to supply the people of 
the Norman Isles, to enable them to send to England the 
wheat which is growing at their own doors. 

" There is no law of primogeniture in the islands ; and, 
next to the equal division of property, I may mention the 
abundance of paper-money in Guernsey as a g^eat cause 
of prosperity. The paper-money is issued by the Govem- 
ment of the island, and in the following way. When any 
great undertaking has been determined on by the States 1 
(as the representatives of the people are called), such, for 
instance, as the opening of new roads, there is immediately 
an issue of one-pound notes. These notes are sent out as 
the work proceeds and as money is wanted. When the 
undertaking is completed, and begins to yield an income, 
the notes are gradually bought in again and new under- 



takings are commenced. The notes are not payable on 
demand ; indeed, the Government has not even an office 
at which they can be presented. Nevertheless the notes 
are never refused. The people find by experience that 
their representatives do not issue the notes in greater 
abundance than the demand for them justifies, and con- 
sequently no depreciation in their value is to be feared. 
Moreover, the purposes for which the notes are issued are 
of advantage to every man in the island, so that every 
one looks upon them as coming from a bank in which he 
is a partner. Here, then, in the little island of Guernsey, 
we have, perhaps, the only instance in the world of a 
really national bank ; a bank in which the whole property 
of the State is the security, and the profit of which is 
shared by the people at large. 

" By means of this truly healthy currency, undertakings 
of great magnitude (considering the size of the island) 
have been executed during the last few years; but im- 
provements have not been brought about without opposi- 
tion from the ignorant So indignant was an old farmer 
at the innovations which were setting in on every side^ 
that, on his death-bed, he left positive orders that his 
coffin should not pass over a single yard of the new roads. 
His orders were obeyed, and the bearers had to engage 
in a kind of steeplechase, clambering over hedges and 
across ditches, to get to the place where the poor man's 
body was to be laid. 

** In nothing are the inhabitants more to be congratu- 
lated than in the administration of their laws. In Guernsey 
every man can procure real, substantial justice at his own 
door, at his own time, and at a trifling expense." 

We left Guernsey in a sailing-vessel, together 


with a few other passengers, as there was no steam 
communication in those days with the islands. 

Arrived at St. Malo, we were at once subjected 
to the ordeal of the custom-house — a much more 
severe affair at that time than it is now. If our 
party had been a gang of felons we could not have 
been more scurvily treated. We were paraded 
through the town to the place of examination, 
headed and followed by a band of officers with 
drawn swords, and surrounded on all sides by a 
crowd of idle gazers, about as ceremonious in their 
remarks as idlers usually are. Such treatment of 
travellers was not, however, confined to the Conti- 
nent I remember once landing at Brighton when 
a custom-house officer, after satisfying himself that 
my hat contained nothing but its legitimate furni- 
ture, and that my pockets were equally innocent, 
proceeded to examine my boots ! I frankly own 
that, feeling as I did the absurdity of the whole 
affair, I had great difficulty in keeping my foot in 
a due state of quiescence during the examination. 

St. Malo was fortified, and at nine o'clock its 
gates were closed for the night, and no one was 
allowed even to walk in the streets without carrying 
a lantern. 

During our visit an alarm of fire occurred at the 
very inn in which we were staying. This caused 


great excitement With all speed the town fire- 
engine, a lumbering, rickety concern, was fetched 
and set to work ; but it was so leaky, and so much 
water squirted out at the sides of the hose, that 
but little could have reached the house. This, 
however, was of small importance, seeing that after 
all it was found that it was not the house, but a 
chimney only, that was on fire. This discovery 
changed the nature of the excitement, for now 
everybody was embracing everybody else, and 
congratulating each other on their wonderful 
escape. The end of this strange scene was the 
dispersion of the crowd by the soldiers when it was 
deemed that the people had been assembled long 

Nothing else remains in my memory till we 
reached Paris. At the place where the diligence 
stopped there were many clamorous emissaries 
from the various hotels eager to secure our luggage 
and our persons. To get quit of these men I an- 
nounced that we were going to the H6tel de la 

** Alas ! " exclaimed one of them, " I am sorry to 
inform you that that hotel has been lately burnt 
to the ground." 

Hoping there might be some mistake, I remarked, 
"But there may be more than one H6tel de la 


Marine in Paris. At the hotel that I am speaking 
of the head waiter is a black man." 

" Yes, truly," he replied ; " he was killed in the 

Shocked at this intelligence, we agreed to go to 
our interlocutor's hotel, and were conducted thither 
by him. We soon had reason, however, to be 
much dissatisfied with our new quarters, and hap- 
pening, the following day, to be walking down the 
Rue Vivienne, we saw, to our great surprise, the 
Hdtel de la Marine standing safe and sound, and 
at the door our friend the black waiter! With 
much indignation at the trick that had been played 
upon us, we hurried back to our new inn, packed 
up our clothes, and proffered payment for the couple 
of days that we had been there. But the landlord 
refused to accept this, and declared that he would 
not allow our luggage to •be taken away unless we 
paid for a whole week. 

I now sallied out in quest of a juge de paix to 
whom to apply for redress. On my way I met 
a young man, whom I asked for the address of a 
juge de paix^ and stated to him our case, about 
which he expressed sympathy and indignation. He 
said that it happened singularly enough that he 
was himself the secretary of a juge de paix! 
Whilst we were talking we were joined by another 


young man, and to him the first repeated my nar- 
rative, adding that what especially excited his 
wrath was, that such a deception should have been 
practised on a foreigner. The two young men 
pressed me to let them show their feelings in the 
matter by calling for a bottle of wine at a neigh- 
bouring cabaret To this I assented. We drank 
our wine and had a cheerful chat, at the end of 
which my entertainers, to my surprise, hastily with- 
drew, leaving me to pay the bill, as much chop- 
fallen, no doubt, as was Gil Bias after receiving 
similar treatment. 

Arthur and I now agreed to call in the aid of 
our friend Monsieur d'Argenson. He readily under- 
took the matter, and made arrangements for our 
appearing with him before a juge de paix. This 
we accordingly did, and our dishonest landlord, 
having received notice, was also there, together 
with his pretty wife, whom he cunningly brought 
with him. When we had stated our case, and the 
landlord had replied, the juge de paix proceeded to 
deliver judgment, which he did in our favour. At 
this stage of the little drama, however, the pretty 
wife stood up and made a pathetic protest against 
the decision. Whereupon his worship unhesitatingly 
altered it, and ordered us to pay for five days. 

To return to home affairs. In the year 1826 



the last State Lottery took place. Government 
had already attempted to regulate and afterwards 
to abolish private lotteries. Not content, however, 
with ceasing to encourage gambling by having a 
lottery of its own, it went from one extreme to 
the other — no uncommon thing in legislation. If 
foolish people like to gamble, they should, I think, 
be allowed to do so, and to suffer the consequences. 
Indeed, in some way or other the spirit is sure to 
manifest itself, and if it be made contrary to law, to 
folly is added the evil of law-breaking. 

The laws that affect the treatment of the insane 
are, happily, very different now from what they 
were at the time of my youth, when much cruelty 
was practised through sheer ignorance. An ac- 
quaintance of ours named Steer had a friend who 
was subject to occasional fits of insanity. When 
these occurred, he was taken to the lunatic asylum 
of his district and there bound to a seat on a pivot, 
which was whirled round and round till he became 

Mr. Steer himself had a strange adventure with 
his friend. They were sleeping in the same room, 
when Mr. Steer was awakened by feeling his face 
in a fiery heat Opening his eyes, he saw a shovel 
full of live coals which his friend was waving over 
his face — **to warm him," as he explained. Mr, 


Steer, with calm presence of mind, thanked him, 
and said " that was quite enough." At this moment 
the watchman in the street below drawled out, 
" Past three o'clock, and a starlight night ! " upon 
which the lunatic rushed to the window, threw up 
the sash, and exclaiming, " Confound you ! what 
are you making that noise for?" dashed the burning 
coals at the head of the poor watchman. 

Speaking of watchmen reminds me of a Bill 
which was introduced into Parliament, to compel 
watchmen to sleep six hours in the day, so that 
they might be fit for their night duty ; whereupon 
a gouty member rose and requested that his name 
might be inserted in the Bill, as he had not enjoyed 
such a sleep for many a long year. 

In 1826 the Society for the Diffusion of Useful 
Knowledge was formed. Matthew and Rowland 
were amongst the original members of the com- 
mittee, and Edwin joined them a year later, on 
his removal to London. 

In Charles Knight's Plain Englishman an article 
had appeared so far back as 1822, headed "Dif- 
fusion of Useful Knowledge." This was the name 
chosen for the new society. Mr. Knight had 
already projected the issue of a series of popular 
works by first-rate authors. His friend Matthew 
Hill introduced him to Brougham, and a committee 


was soon at work. It represented almost every 
creed, and included distinguished statesmen and 
men eminent in every branch of learning. So 
prompt was it in action, that the first publication, 
No. I of a series of fortnightly sixpenny numbers, 
forming the "Library of Useful Knowledge," 
appeared in March, 1827. This was Brougham's 
" Discourse on the Objects, Advantages, and Plea- 
sures of Science/' 

The aim of the society in its fullest scope was 
to promote a love of freedom and of peace by 
educating the people and elevating their tastes. 

The "Library of Useful Knowledge" soon 
reached a circulation of nearly twenty thousand. 
The "Entertaining Library" which followed was 
equally successful. The Penny Magazine appeared 
at the end of March in the next year. Very soon 
the sale of a single issue reached two hundred 
thousand. The brothers Chambers anticipated this 
magazine a few weeks by their admirable Journal, 
the first number of which had come out in February; 
but its price was higher, and it was not illustrated. 
The great success of the Penny Magazine led to 
the publication of the Penny Cyclopcedia. The 
Saturday Magazine of the Christian Knowledge 
Society appeared a few months later ; other similar 
publications followed, and cheap serials, combin- 


ing instruction and amusement, rapidly became 

It was not till many years later than the period 
of which I am now writing that I became acquainted 
with the family of Cowper, into which I ultimately 
married ; but it is pleasant to me to know that 
at this time my future wife and her family were 
taking a lively interest in the same objects that 
were occupying our minds. Professor Cowper was 
largely contributing to the diffusion of cheap litera- 
ture by means of his admirable printing machine, 
which had supplanted the old hand-press. 

Among the many evil practices which have been 
abolished during my lifetime is the practice of 
duelling. Most of my contemporaries must re- 
member, as I do, tragic stories of friends or 
acquaintances who had duels forced upon them 
by their country's code of honour, which was at 
variance with their country's laws. 

My brother Matthew wrote an article against 
duelling, which appeared in the first number of 
Knighis Quarterly Magazine, in the year 1823. 
He suggested that after every duel, whether fatal 
or not, an inquest should be held into the circum- 
stances of the quarrel, with the view of discovering 
and punishing the aggressors. It was pointed out 
• See " Memoir of Matthew Davenport HilL" 

1829.] DUELLING. 75 

that, if this course were adopted, "that noxious 
animal, the bully, would become extinct" When 
this essay was written, the anomaly with respect 
to military men was still more extreme than that 
which prevailed among civilians. The Mutiny Act 
made it even possible for an officer to be punished 
for not fighting a duel, although the rules of the 
Horse Guards forbade duelling. 

It was not till the year 1843 ^'^^ duelling was 
finally abolished, when the death of Colonel Fawcett, 
by the hand of his brother-in-law, produced so 
great a revulsion of feeling that public opinion 
would no longer sanction such outrages.* 

In the year 1829 the Government, under the 
leadership of the Duke of Wellington and Sir 
Robert Peel, brought forward and carried the Bill 
for Catholic Emancipation. By doing so they gave 
great offence to many of their supporters and to 
a large part of the population generally. A great 
meeting was held on Pennenden Heath, in Kent, 
to protest against the measure. 

What little lay in my power to do towards in- 
fluencing public opinion in Birmingham in the right 
direction I did by writing a pamphlet,, addressed 
to my fellow-townsmen, entitled " Freedom to 
Catholics Consistent with Safety to the State." 
* See " Memoir of Matthew Davenport Hill." 


Another matter which interested me at this 
period was the question of wages. In 1830, at 
the request of a Pariiamentary friend, I made some 
inquiries into the working of what is called the 
" Truck System *' — ^that is, the paying of wages (in 
part at least) in " kind *' instead of in money. The 
subject was about to be brought before Parliament. 
The evidence which I collected, by visiting iron 
works and other places, where large numbers of 
workmen were employed, convinced me of the 
benefits of the system both to master and man. 
The action which Parliament took ultimately was 
to make the Truck System illegal. Such State 
interference in freedom of contract is, in my opinion, 
always mischievous. 

( n ) 


The great Reform Bill — Birmingham Political Union — Thomas 
Attwood — ^Lord John Russell — Family action — Contempo- 
rary letters — Mr. Scholefield — Earl Grey — Public readings 
— ^Triumphal procession. 

The question of Parliamentary Reform had taken 
a firm hold of the public mind by the beginning of 
the year 1831. The period being one of national 
crisis, we held a family council to determine what 
action duty to our country called upon us to take. 
All agreed that one member should be spared from 
the work of the school and set at liberty to take an 
active part in the coming struggle. I was chosen 
for this purpose. Without loss of time, therefore, 
I enrolled myself as a member of the Political 
Union, an association which had been started in 
Birmingham as early as January, 1830. Mr. 
Thomas Attwood, a banker whose name soon rose 
into great prominence, was its president. With 
him and the other leaders of the Reform movement 
I soon became personally acquainted. 



[Chap. V. 

The Political Union was joined by a large 
number of the inhabitants of Birmingham and its 
neighbourhood. A medal was struck, which its 
members wore as a distinguishing badge. It was 
suspended to a ribbon of the Union Jack colours. 
The accompanying engraving is taken from one of 
these medals in my possession. 





Associations similar to the Birmingham Political 
Union were rapidly forming all over the country. 

The Grey Ministry was at this time in power, 
and we had, therefore, a favourable Government to 
deal with ; but at any moment this Ministry might 
be ousted. There was a prospect of a severe 
struggle. The chief cause of apprehension was the 
part which the Duke of Wellington might deem it 
his duty to take ; while the question as to whether 
the army would consent to act against the people, 
or would refuse to do so, was much discussed. 

Another ground of apprehension was the conduct 
of the extreme Democratic party, under the leader- 
ship of " Orator" Hunt. Of this party few, happily, 
showed themselves in Birmingham. 

On the I St of March of this year (1831) the 
Reform Bill was introduced into the House of 
Commons by Lord John Russell. My brother 
Matthew was in the Strangers' Gallery on that 
memorable occasion. Describing the scene to us 
afterwards, he stated that when Lord John rose to 
propose the measure he was greeted with shouts of 
derisive laughter from the Tories. But the Bill 
was received very differently by the Liberals and 
by the nation at large. It was hailed with a burst 
of enthusiasm, soon followed by the cry of, " The 
Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill !" 


The extreme Radical party, indeed, denounced 
the measure as not going far enough, but by the 
large and more intelligent portion of the Liberal 
party it was warmly approved. The amount of 
political power which it transferred from persons 
who were irresponsible to men elected by the 
people quite satisfied them. They were also, no 
doubt, influenced by that instinctive dislike to great 
and violent change which happily distinguishes our 
race, and which secures us against such terrible and 
bloody disasters as have befallen the French. 

The following is part of a letter written by me at 
this time to my brother Rowland : — 

"Hazelwood, March i, 183 1. 

"My dear Rowland, 

"We shall have a town's meeting to-morrow 
called by the Political Union. 

" I rode down to town after I received your letter, and 
accompanied young Attwood to a meeting of the Council 
Attwood and all others agree in the advisability of 
confining their attention and support to the measure of 
Reform brought forward by the Ministers. 

"The meeting will take place as usual at Beardsworth's, 
but it is thought probable that even his immense building 
will not be capable of receiving the tide of people that 
will be ready to pour into it An address will be voted 
to the King and Ministers expressive of delight and 
gratitude, and offering the assistance of all attending the 
meeting. Probably there will be fifteen or twenty thousand 
even at this short notice. The greatest enthusiasm prevails- 


"The Union will proceed to the meeting with music 
and banners and every symbol of joy. 

" If the first reading of the Bill passes successfully, there 
will be a general illumination. 

** Mr. Scholefield showed me, in private, a letter he had 
received from Earl Grey, whom he knows personally. 
Scholefield had written to him expressive of his joyful 
concurrence in the measure proposed, and Lord Grey 
writes in answer to say that Ministers will exert themselves 
to the utmost to carry it. I hope to God they will have 
firmness enough to dissolve Parliament if the Bill be 

'*I believe that the most effectual means of assisting 
the cause at this juncture is to aid the Union with money. 
It is so important as an example as well as in itself. Its 
income is great, but its expenditure is great also. Thomas 
Attwood told me, a short time ago, that in the last year 
they had expended £isoo in printing alone. 

"There must be no delay in whatever is done. 

"Yours truly, 

"Frederic Hill." 

Soon after the second reading of the Bill (though 
it was carried by one vote) the Ministers found 
themselves opposed by a majority in the House 
of Commons. The result was a dissolution of 
Parliament. This took place on April 22, "after 
a scene of bellowing and roaring and gnashing of 
teeth on the part of the adversary in both Houses, 
which it was almost frightful to look at"* Lord 

• See Cockbum's "Life of Lord Jeffrey." 


82 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. V. 

Brougham, speaking in the Upper House, with 
peculiar emphasis called the Parliament "pro- 

On June 14 Parliament was again summoned, 
but now the Whigs had an overwhelming majority. 
Still there was a hard battle to be fought over the 
details of the Bill, and it was not finally passed till 
September 21. 

On October 7 the Bill was thrown out by the 
House of Lords. Upon this a strong feeling of 
indignation was felt throughout the country; and 
now began a state of public excitement such as I 
have never witnessed either before or since. Many 
people apprehended a civil war. 

Immediately after the rejection of the Bill, 
Mr. Attwood wrote an address to the people of 
Birmingham, which was placarded and widely 
circulated, and which had at once a calming and 
reassuring effect It began, I remember, with 
these words : — 

" Peace I Peace ! Peace ! 

" The King is firm, the Ministry are firm, and the House 
of Commons is firm ; why then should there be fear ? " 

The last sentence was as follows : — 

"Friends and fellow-countrymen, listen to us. The 
sword must not be drawn in England. The terrible knell 


of the tocsin must not sound. The tears of the widow 
and orphan must not mark our course. We will have no 
barricades. Without blood, without anarchy, without 
violation of the law, we will accomplish the most glorious 
reformation recorded in the history of the world." * 

In the " Life of Lord John Russell," by Spencer 
Walpole, we find the following passage. After 
speaking of some disturbances in the country which 
had taken place upon the rejection of the Reform 
Bill by the House of Lords, he goes on to say — 

"More significant than these disturbances was the 
attitude of the great meetings which were ever3rwhere 
summoned to denounce the Lords and to support the 
Administration. At Birmingham, in particular, the head- 
quarters of the Political Union, a gathering which was 
computed to comprise a hundred and fifty thousand 
persons voted an address to the Crown, expressing alarm 
at the awful consequences which might ensue from the 
failure of Reform, and praying the King to create as many 
peers as might be necessary to carry the measure. The 
persons present pledged themselves to pay no taxes if 
Reform were not passed, and, in the mean time, they 
accorded their thanks to Lord Althorp and Lord John 

Lord John replied in a letter which became 
famous — 

"I beg to acknowledge with heartfelt gratitude the 
undeserved honour done me by a hundred and fifty 

* See "A Century of Birmingham Life," by J. A. Langford. 

84 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. V. 

thousand of my fellow-countrymen. Our prospects are 
obscured for a moment ; but I trust only for a moment. 
It is impossible that the whisper of a faction should pre- 
vail against the voice of a nation.'' 

At this time I received the following letter from 
my Guernsey friend, Mr. Daniel de Lisle Brock : — 

" Guernsey, December 24, 1831. 

"Dear Mr. Hill, 

"You say truly that the times are critical — they 
never were more so ; but I have great confidence in Lord 
Grey. I had many conversations with him on business 
twenty-five years ago on an occasion of importance, when 
he was introduced to me by his father, then the Governor 
of this island. I never left the present Lord Grey but 
with renewed impressions of his strong mind and quick 
intellectual capacity. . • . He must have more moral 
courage than any public man of modern days, from his 
very attempt to effect so great a purpose. . . . You in- 
habitants of Birmingham must be found worthy of him 
and of the position in which you have placed yourselves. 
You must afford a bright example to the rest of England. 
All eyes are directed towards you. . . . 

" Yours truly, 
"Daniel de Lisle Brock." 

As the spring of 1832 approached, and the 
prospects of the Reform Bill seemed now hopeful 
and now gloomy, the general excitement increased. 

The Council of the Political Union gave notice 
that a great open-air meeting would be held on 


May 7, at the foot of Newhall Hill, for the purpose 
of passing resolutions to urge the House of Lords 
to pass the Bill. The branches of the Union in 
the neighbourhood of Birmingham were invited to 
attend, and all supporters of Reform asked to be 

An enormous concourse of people assembled, 
amounting, it is said, to two hundred thousand. 

'' The banners and bands of music formed not the least 
remarkable or attractive features of this extraordinary 
awaking of the people. It was a grand and sublime sight, 
which those who witnessed will never forget Mr. Attwood 
was in the chair, and before the business commenced these 
two hundred thousand voices sang the spirit-stirring hymn 
by the Rev. Hugh Hutton, 'The Gathering of the 
Unions * — 


" Over mountain, over plain, 

Echoing wide from sea to sea, 
Peals, and shall not peal in vain. 

The trumpet-call of Liberty ! 
Britain's guardian spirit cries — 
Britons, awake ! awake ! arise ! 

''See rises from the bed of fame 

Each chief of glorious Runnymede, 
With Hampden ! histor/s noblest name — 

They call us to our country's need. 
They call, and can we heedless be ? 
No 1 for we must, we will be free. 

86 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. V. 

^ But not to war and blood they call, 
They bid us lift nor sword nor gun ; 
Peace^l but firm join one and all 

To claim our rights, and they are won. 
The British Lion's voice alone 
Shall gain for Britain all her own. 


" Lo, we answer^ see ! we come ! 

Quick at freedom's holy call 
We come, we come ! we come, we come ! 

To do the glorious work of alL 
And hark ! we raise from sea to sea 
Our sacred watchword, Liberty! 

'' God is our Guide ! from field, fi-om wave, 
The plough, the anvil, and the loom, 
We come our country's rights to save, 
And speak a tyrant faction's doom ! 
And hark ! we raise firom sea to sea 
Our sacred watchword. Liberty I 

" God is our Guide ! no sword we draw ; 

We kindle not war's fatal fires. 
By union, justice, reason, law. 

We claim the birthright of our sires ! 
And thus we raise from sea to sea 
Our sacred watchword. Liberty ! " 

In the petition to the House of Lords this great 
meeting" prayed them not to injure or mutilate the 
Bill ; and anxiously and earnestly implored the 
Lords ** not to drive to despair a high-minded, 
generous, and fearless people." Then followed one 
of the most solemn spectacles ever seen. Mr. 

i832.] THE UNION VOW, 87 

Thomas Glutton Salt, acting, as it were, on a 
sudden inspiration, took off his hat, and, the vast 
multitude following his example, he made them 
repeat after him the Union vow. Thus from the 
two hundred thousand assembled arose in unison, 
like the solemn voice of the sea, these words : " In 
unbroken faith, through every peril and privation, 
we devote ourselves and our children to our 
country's cause." * 

At the very time that this patriotic meeting was 
being held. Government was sustaining a serious 
defeat in Parliament. On the 9th Earl Grey 

The historian of the '* Thirty Years' Peace " thus 
describes the scenes which followed the resignation 
of the Whig Ministry : — 

" The excitement in the provinces was, if possible, even 
more threatening than in London. Birmingham was at 
that time looked upon as the head-quarters of Reform ; 
and the movements of the Political Union, presided over 
by Mr. Thomas Attwood, were deemed of great impor- 
tance both by the friends and the opponents of Reform. 
The news that the Reform Bill was in fact defeated, and 
that Lord Grey had resigned, instantly excited not only the 
more ardent reformers of the town, who had hitherto con- 
stituted the Union, but stirred up the whole population, 
timid and fearless, eager and apathetic, alike ; and they in 

* See "A Century of Birmingham Life,'* by J. A. LangforA 

88 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. V. 

various ways made manifest their anger and their deter- 
mination. Placards were exhibited in the windows, some 
of which were in these words : — 





Others stated, ' No taxes paid here in money, and no goods 
bought distrained for taxes.' And, as was the case in 
London, immense numbers of persons to whom political 
agitation was disagreeable, and who, therefore, had hitherto 
abstained from taking part in it, now joined the Political 
Union. Catholic priests and grave Quakers ostentatiously 
enrolled their names in the books of the Union, stating 
that they did so in order to preserve the peace ; for anarchy 
and confusion, they asserted, 'were certain unless the 
Reform Bill was instantly carried.' Deputations from the 
surrounding towns came hurriedly to Birmingham, as a 
centre, in order to concert measures in this dangerous 
crisis. A meeting was held and a petition was proposed. 
Mr. Edmonds read the resolution passed by the Council, 
and having urged upon the assembly the observance of 
' legal, peaceable, firm, and determined conduct,' he pro- 
ceeded to move the petition to the House of Commons, 
the adoption of which was seconded by Mr. Scholefield, who 
announced that at the close of the proceedings, a deputa- 
tion, of which he had the honour of forming a part, would 
leave Birmingham for London, to communicate the 
opinions of the vast multitude he then addressed to the 
members of the legislature. . . . The delegates who 
brought this petition to London were next day present at 


various public meetings held in the metropolis. Their 
presence excited still more the enthusiasm of the people."* 

On the nth I received the following note from 
Mr. Charles Jones, a member of the Council of the 
Political Union : — 

"May II, 1832. 
"My dear Sir, 

"I have just received a packet from Man- 
chester. There has been a meeting there, and a petition 
adopted and signed in three hours by 21,000 persons, which 
was instantly forwarded by express to London. 

"We are still receiving great accessions to our numbers. 
Pray come this afternoon — the Council meets at half-past 
four for the purpose of signing an address to his Majesty. 
I am happy to inform you several persons will attend, to 
promote the good work which your patriotism suggested 
yesterday respecting the funds. 

" Yours truly, 

"C. Jones." 

Letter from M. D. Hill. 

"Chancery Lane, Thursday, May ii, 1832. 

"Dear Frederic, 

"... Nobody here seems to doubt but that 
the King must give way. I have been to a district meet- 
ing of the Finsbury division, and spoke. It was held near 
Islington, and attended by 20,000 people. Joseph Hume 
was in the chair; all went off well. . . . We have very 
good reason for believing that the army would not fight 

* See " A Century of Birmingham Life," by J. A. Langford. 

90 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. V. 

for the Tories. I trust the people of Birmingham will not 
lose their patience yet. 

"Yours very truly, 

"M. D. Hill." 

Three days later I wrote to Matthew : — 

'^Bimiingham, May 14, 1832. 

"Dear Matthew, 

"The excitement is greater than it has been 
since Thursday. I think that was the day the news of the 
resignation came, but my mind is in such an excited state 
that I cannot answer for dates. 

" Mr. Scholefield attended the Council to-day to give an 
account of his reception in London. The audience (at 
least five hundred in number) was quite touched with his 
account of his interview with Lord Grey, and gave the 
old lord three hearty cheers. 

" Many donations were announced — among others one 
of ;f 20 from an old schoolfellow of Mr. Attwood's. The 
Council spent a great deal of time in discussing the merits 
of ' The Covenant' The great question is, Shall we go for 
the Bill, or for more than the Bill ? Attwood, Edmonds, 
and several others are for abiding by the Bill. Jones and 
others are for going for more. I expect that the Bill will 
have the day. 

"The middle classes are, I think, becoming rapidly 
prepared as a whole body to refuse the payment of taxes. 

"The general expectation here is that the Duke will 
instantly resort to violent measures. An arrest of all the 
members of the Council is looked upon as a probable 
measure. I much fear that the people will not be able to 
restrain themselves in this case. Would to God that the 


organization had been effected I I want the Council to 
publish an address stating clearly the possible measures 
which the Duke may resort to, and the precise steps 
which the people should adopt in each case. 

"Attwood appears to be quite equal to the 'post in 
which circumstances have now placed him. He is as 
calm and clear-headed as ever; and his advice to the 
people is very judicious. He is determined, if possible, to 
keep strictly within the law. The other members of the 
Council show no signs of flinching. New members, too, 
are crowding to the Union. 

"Yours truly, 

"Frederic Hill." 

Same date. 

"Dear Rowland, 

"... God knows when this political excite- 
ment will be over, now that a sword has been appointed 
Prime Minister of England. The people here are in a 
fever of excitement ; the shopkeepers say that nothing is 
being done. This morning an idle report got about that 
the Duke of Wellington was at the Swan. A great crowd 
instantly assembled. The proprietor of the inn sent down 
to Mr. Attwood to come and assure the people that the 
Duke was not in his house. Mr. Attwood was not yet 
come to town, but fortunately Mr. McDonnell (a Catholic 
priest) was at hand, and satisfied the people that the 
traveller who was supposed to be the Duke was not he. 
The gentleman was a Colonel O'Brien, and he stated him- 
self to be a staunch reformer. 

" The Council of the Union has been sitting to-day, but 
has not adopted any measures. The time was partly 
occupied by Mr. Scholefield's account of his reception in 
London, as one of the deputation. 

92 FREDERIC HILL, [Chap. V. 

" You talk of a physical struggle. I hope you discourage 
the idea as far as possible. We are much safer in every 
respect on other grounds. In moral force the Tories are 
miserably feeble ; let us, then, defeat them there. I have no 
doubt they will do their best to decoy the people into 
acts of violence, but non-payment of taxes will bring the 
rascals to. The Council discourage all idea of a physical 
struggle unless the Duke's party are the aggressors. The 
great ^thing to keep the people quiet is to keep them 
employed. I propose that a number of pieces of waste 
ground, large courts, etc., should be taken, and that every 
evening, when the papers come in, they should be read and 
commented on, and a closing address made enforcing 
order. If you like the idea, perhaps you can carry it into 
effect in London. I shall try to do so here. But I am 
not yet on the Council, so that I cannot move rapidly. 
Attwood told me I was elected last Saturday ; but it was a 
mistake, notice only having been given. The situation is 
one of great responsibility, but I am inclined to accept it. 
The election will be made to-morrow evening. 

" Yours truly, 

"Frederic Hill." 

On the following day I became a member of the 
Council of the Political Union, and I immediately 
brought forward the plan proposed in the foregoing 
letter. It was received . with approbation, and 
measures were at once taken to carry it into effect. 
The public readings were announced beforehand 
by bills put up in conspicuous places in Birmingham. 
One of these bills is still in my possession, of which 
I give a facsimile. 

Public Reading 



In order to satisfy the eiiger desire of the PoMic to learn 
the News of the Day, and with a view of preventing the cirrai- 
latkm of incorrect reports, arrangements have been made for 





Svery fiveiiing at a Quarter-past T 


Cooper's Wews-Olllee, Coioo-street, 
Front of the Old TTtaarf, and 
The Comer of Regent Plaee, Caroline- 
street, St. Paul's. 

The Pnbiie Beading will liesini 

THIS sviaiiirGi 

Friday, May IS, 1S89. 



94 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. V. 

These public readings were fully appreciated. 
They appeased the general craving for news at a 
time when there was no electric telegraph, and 
when the want of cheap newspapers and of educa- 
tion made it difficult for a large portion of the 
public to obtain correct information for themselves. 
The working men were now content to remain 
quietly at their employment during the daytime, 
instead of leaving it to seek for news. I myself 
was one of the readers. I frequently addressed 
audiences from the steps of St. Philips Church. 
They were, invariably, both orderly and attentive. 

Letter from Rowland Hilu 

"May IS, 1832. 

"Dear Frederic, 

" Your plan of a public reader is excellent, and 

I will try what can be done towards initiating it here. . . . 

"Sunday's Spectator contained a glorious account of 

the • Gathering of the Unions ' at Birmingham. It should 

be read to the people. ... 

" What a pity the late Ministers opposed the flogging 
abolition Bill I It would be well for all Reform Associa- 
tions to declare their intention of requiring a Reform 
Parliament to abolish corporal punishments in the army. 


" R- Hill." 


Letter from M. D. Hill. 

" Chancery Lane, May, 1832. 

"Dear R, 

"... I have been to Westminster, and have 
read your letter to the Chancellor's secretary, he himself 
being engaged in hearing appeals in the House of Lords. 
He and every one else to whom I have shown it appear 
greatly struck at the dignified firmness of the Birmingham 

" I think your plan of public readings admirable. It 
ought to be adopted throughout the kingdom. 

"... To-night we hold an adjourned meeting in our 
parish, at which I mean to propose a Parish Convocation, 
to organize the inhabitants to collect subscriptions. 

"I mean to print my speech if I succeed, and I will 
send you some copies for distribution. . . . 

" Peel has twice refused office, but is expected to relent. 
The Tories talk of passing the Bill with but little altera- 
tion. No dissolution is expected to-day, at least 

" Yours, 

"M. D.Hill." 

The following is a contemporary account of 
the state of public feeling in Birmingham at this 
time : — 

" The population of the town during Monday last con- 
tinued in a highly excited and feverish state, arising out 
of the events of the preceding week. Every kind of 
employment appeared to be altogether suspended ; the 
streets were crowded from morning until night, and the 

96 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. V. 

greatest avidity to obtain fresh intelligence was every- 
where exhibited. The Council of the Union met in the 
forenoon, and, it becoming known that they were prepar- 
ing a Declaration for publication against the proposed 
Ministry, the vicinity of the place of meeting became an 
object of attraction, and crowds of persons remained 
constantly on the spot In the course of the day great 
accession was made to the members of the Union, and 
the streets were paraded by many of the newly enrolled 
members with music, banners, etc. ; no attempt at disorder, 
however, took place. . . . The Declaration, issued by the 
Council of the Union, appeared upon the walls, and was 
eagerly read by the populace. This document, after re- 
citing the grounds on which it rested its alarm at the 
report of the Duke of Wellington's appointment to the 
Ministry, observed — 

"'For these and various other reasons we hereby 
solemnly declare our fixed determination to use all the 
means which the constitution and the law have placed 
at our disposal, to induce his Majesty to reject from his 
Councils that faction at the head of which is the Duke 
of Wellington . . . and we declare our firm conviction 
that the public excitement and agitation can never be 
allayed until the great Bill of Reform shall be carried into 
law by that Administration by whose wisdom and virtue 
it was first introduced. These are our fixed and un- 
alterable sentiments ; and we hereby appeal to our fellow- 
countrymen throughout England, Scotland, and Ireland, 
and we confidently call upon them to unite with us, and 
to sign this our solemn Declaration in support of the 
liberty and happiness of our country." * 

* See " A Century of Birmingham Life,*' by J. A. Langford. 


The very morning after the day on which this 
meeting was held affairs underwent a sudden and 
unlooked-for change. News arrived at an early 
hour on Wednesday, May 16, that the Duke of 
Wellington was unable to form a Ministry, and that 
Earl Grey and his colleagues had returned to 
power. This welcome intelligence was conveyed 
to Birmingham by Mr. Joseph Parkes, who 
"travelled by post express down from London 
with the news, distributing printed slips to the 
effect that Earl Grey was again in power — scattering 
them by the roadside and amongst the population 
of every town and village in the way." The public 
joy on this occasion can never be forgotten by those 
who, like myself, witnessed and shared in it. 

The following letter from me to my brother 
Matthew may give to younger generations some 
idea of it : — 

''Birmingham, May 16, 1832. 

"Dear Matthew, 

** I hope that the torrent of joy has not wrecked 
your nervous system. Never was there such a change 
from gloom and anxiety to bright prospects and security. 
Thank God, the strain on the patience and self-control 
of the people is loosened. I greatly fear they could not 
have forborne much longer. The ecstasy into which we 
here are thrown is, I suppose, but the counterpart of the 
state of things with you. Poor Edmonds 1 When I 

98 FREDERIC HILL, [Chap. V. 

met him this morning his eyes were red with weeping; 
the news had quite overpowered him. Parkes reached 
Birmingham soon after six. He aroused Jones by a 
quarter past, who hurried to the churches to give orders 
for clamming the bells and hoisting flags from the steeples. 
Luckily the Royal Standard, which had been had from 
Somerset House for the great meeting yesterday week, 
was still in Birmingham. It has been all day streaming 
from the top of St. Philip's Church — a noble sight ! 

"Of course dispatches were instantly sent off to Mr. 
Attwood. Joe Parkes himself was the bearer of the glad 
tidings. With as little delay as possible placards were 
posted against the walls proclaiming the joyful news, and 
inviting the inhabitants to go en masse to conduct Thomas 
Attwood into town. When I found that all arrangements 
had been made in Birmingham, I galloped back to 
Hazelwood. We had the phaeton immediately prepared, 
blue rosettes to the horses' heads, and, with my mother, 
Sarah and Ellen, and some of the youngsters in the 
carriage, I drove off to join in the procession. The place 
of rendezvous was the Five-ways Turnpike, but many 
thousand people went the whole of the way to Mr. 
Attwood's house. The procession, consisting of from 
twenty to thirty thousand people, marched on to Newhall 
Hill, where in a short time we had from fifty to sixty 
thousand. Good resolutions and addresses have been 
adopted, and Attwood and Scholefield go up to London 
this evening with them. 

" Father is better. How can any one be otherwise ! 

" Yours truly, 

"Frederic Hill." 

The triumphant procession described in my 


letter entered the town by Smallbrook Street, and 
advanced through High Street, New Street, and 
Newhall Street, to Newhall Hill. Preparations 
had there been made to hold a congratulatory 
meeting. On the arrival of Mr. Attwood he was 
at once called upon to take the chair, amidst the 
enthusiastic cheering of the crowd. But before 
proceedings commenced he turned to the Rev. 
Hugh Hutton and requested him to offer up a 
prayer of thanksgiving. In an instant there was the 
hushed silence of deep feeling whilst the preacher, 
in the name of that vast multitude assembled, 
returned thanks to the Almighty for '*the great 
bloodless victory" that had been achieved. Mr. 
Attwood made an eloquent speech, in which he 
said that Earl Grey " had been carried back — as he 
should be carried back — on the shoulders of the 
people into his Majesty's Councils," adding "that 
by patience, fortitude, and a strict regard to law, 
they had gathered up strength that had proved 

The Reform Bill passed the House of Lords on 
the 4th of June, and on the 7th received the Royal 
assent. Thus was accomplished the greatest 
political change, without bloodshed, that was ever 
made, as far as my knowledge goes, in England or 
in any other country; a change which has been 


loo FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. V. 

productive of vast improvements, and which for 
more than thirty years maintained its peaceful 
course without material alteration. 

Birmingham was now entitled, for the first 
time, to be represented in Parliament. Her two 
candidates were Mr. Attwood and Mr. Scholefield. 
The nominations took place on December 12, when 
my father had the honour of proposing Mr. Attwood. 

At this very time Matthew was standing a 
contested election as candidate for Hull. My 
father wrote to him on December 1 2 : — 

"Attwood and Scholefield are chosen without opposition. 
God speed you at Hull ! It was my task this morning to 
propose Attwood. I was listened to by twenty-five thousand 
people, they tell me." 

And a few days later he wrote again — 

" They have made me chairman of Attwood's Committee. 
I am glad that you liked what I spoke at the town's 
meeting. All I said came from the heart, as prompted by 
a sincere affection for liberty, goodness, and truth. Still 
the fervour of delivery was not less because Attwood and 
Birmingham had common cause with Hill and Hull." 

( loi ) 



M. D. Hill, member for Hull — Famfly projects for social 
reforms — Joanna Baillie — " Family Fund " — Commence- 
ment of Corn Law agitation — Appointment as inspector of 
prisons — Mr. Sergeant Wilde — Hon. Charles P. Villiers — 
Robert Owen — Elizabeth Fry. 

My brother Matthew had been invited to repre- 
sent the borough of Hull in the Liberal interest 
His candidature was successful. 

" The first subject to which he turned his thoughts on 
becoming a member of the Legislature was one which 
his professional duties had brought painfully under his 
notice — the anomaly of refusing to Counsel in felonies 
the right to address the jury, whilst it was permitted in 
other classes of offences." 

Matthew had never forgotten Hone's description 
of the judicial murder of Eliza Penning (already 
alluded to), and the deep impression it made upon 
him bore practical fruit in his first session in 


** Had Eliza Penning been tried in Scotland or in the 
British Colonies, in the United States or in any other 
country in the civilized world, or, indeed, had she been 
charged in England with only a misdemeanour, her 
Counsel might have addressed the jury. The caprice of 
the English law, in this latter respect, would have been 
absolutely ludicrous had it not involved consequences 
so tragic" 

When giving evidence on this subject, my brother 
said — 

" I am charged with holding up my stick at another ; 
he prosecutes me for a common assault ; my Counsel may 
speak for me the whole day ; but let that stick have a 
nail at the end of it, and let me be accused of puncturing 
my opponent with it, and my supposed offence becomes 
a felony ; then, my life being at stake, my Counsel cannot 

A Bill was introduced into Parliament for a 
change in the law which Matthew did all in his 
power to promote, but it encountered much oppo- 
sition, and was not finally passed till three years 

I am tempted to quote my brother's words on 
one other subject of even greater importance — 
namely, the Abolition of Slavery in our Colonies. 
Speaking on the question of compensation to the 
West India planters, Matthew said — 

* See " Memoir of M. D. Hill" 


"Let me congratulate the House that the slave does 
not add to our difficulties by himself demanding com- 
pensation ; for I confess I know not how we should resist 
his claim if he said to us, ' I have been kept in bondage 
during the best years of my life. I have been compelled 
to labour, not for myself or my children, but for a hard 
taskmaster, who, with the value of my toil in his pocket, 
comes before you to demand compensation. If, then, you 
have money to spare, pay me first' '* 

We were all proud of Matthew's many talents, 
and were ready to help him, whenever it was 
possible, in his efforts for the protection of the 
injured and for the promotion of the public good. 
Many years later Rowland wrote to him, saying, 
" The members of our family have always been 
ready to assist one another, consequently each has 
worked with the combined force of all ; but you 
have been the pioneer for us all." 

" The glorious Reform Bill," to use my father s 
words, stood " as a mighty organized body ready 
for working incalculable good." My brothers and 
I seized the occasion of its advent to devise and 
discuss with one another many a project of Reform, 
as the following letters will show : — 

From Rowland Hill. 

** Bruce Castle, February 10, 1832. 
"Dear Fred^., 

**What is to be done with Ireland is really 
a most difficult question. No doubt justice in the first 


instance, and I should say a complete wiping away of 
the Protestant Church Establishment But we must not 
expect everybody to adopt the decided measures we may 
think best And having done this, what next? The 
habits of the people, resulting from a long system of 
mismanagement, would not at once change, and the 
murders and burnings must not be allowed to continue. 
It is manifest, I think, that the people are, not honest 
enough for trial by jury ; and I am very much inclined to 
advocate a sort of despotism, responsible, however, to the 
English Parliament Still I would try, in the first instance, 
the removal of all unjust institutions ; but I would 
prepare to follow up this with very strong measures of 
coercion. . . . 

" Yours affectionately, 

" R. Hill." 

From the same. 

"Bruce Castle, May 8, 1832. 

"Dear Fred^ 

" I send you for perusal a letter from Malthus. 
I had written to him requesting his acceptance of * Home 
Colonies,' and expressing a hope that I had correctly 
interpreted his evidence. . . . 

" Among various plans, consider this — To try to obtain 
the management of some cotton works. Educate the 
children welL Let all engaged devote part of their time 
to agriculture for the sake of health. Keep the mills at 
work from early in the morning, say four or five, till late 
at night, say nine or ten, without any interruption, employ- 
ing two sets of workpeople. Form a town of the work- 
people, making use of improved arrangements, etc. This 

1832,] ''HOME COLONIES.'' 105 

plan would, I think, afford employment for the various 
talents of the family, in the improvement of the machinery, 
education and management of the workpeople, etc., and 
would be attended with increased economy in the produc- 
tion of cotton. By having a great number of persons under 
our control we should be able to try many of the co-opera- 
tive plans. . . . The changes connected with the restrictions 
on trade which must speedily follow a reformed Parlia- 
ment (the upsetting of the East India Charter, Bank 
Charter, the Usury Laws, Com Laws, duties on the 
productions of other countries, etc, etc.) must give an 
impetus to those trades which are most advantageously 
followed in this country. 

" Yours, 

"R. Hill." 

The pamphlet *' Home Colonies " referred to in 
the foregoing letter was written by Rowland at 
the request of Lord Brougham, and was published 
in 1832. 

The objects of the plan were the ** gradual ex- 
tinction of pauperism and diminution of crime." 

The following year there seemed a likelihood of 
our being able to give these schemes a practical 

A commission had been appointed to inquire 
into the abuses which had arisen in the administra- 
tion of the Poor Law. Among those who gave 
evidence before it was the Rev. H. P. Jeston, Vicar 
of Cholesbury, near Tring. He described in a 

io6 FREDERIC HILL, [Chap. VI. 

Striking manner the deplorable condition to which 
these abuses had reduced his parish. Much of the 
land had ceased to be cultivated, and misery was 
visible on all sides. 

Rowland writes to me. 

" Brace Castle, April 30, 1833. 
••Dear Fred% 

"Turn to page 86 of the Poor Law Report and 
read the account of the parish of Cholesbuiy, Bucks. 
You see that the whole parish (a small one) may be bought 
for about ;f 2000. What think you of buying it ? . . . 

" I have written to Mr. Jeston for further information, 
and if his reply is satisfactory I think of riding over to 
see the place. Edwin thinks highly of the plan. I should 
like to know your opinion, and that of Arthur and father. 
By establishing a kind of pauper colony we might, I 
think, at once get rid of the rates and obtain a good 
rent for the laud. At the same time we might establish 
the truth of our opinions on the subject of Home 


« R. Hill." 

We took up the matter with every intention of 
carrying it through, but, unfortunately, there proved 
to be an insurmountable difficulty opposed to our 
scheme. In the middle of the town of Cholesbury 
there was a public-house, the centre of drinking 
and disorder, whose owners positively refused to 
treat with us on any terms for its purchase. Con- 


vinced as we were that all our efforts for the reform 
of the place would be vain so long as this public- 
house remained open, we reluctantly abandoned our 

I may here mention that thirty years later I 
became intimately acquainted with Mr, Jeston, for 
whom I entertained a warm esteem. 

Letter from Edwin Hill. 

" Bruce Castle, May 19, 1832. 
"Dear Fred^., 

" As you are a member of the Council (of the 
Political Union), will you consider the propriety of a 
petition for ameliorating the condition of the army and 
navy by the introduction of a system of treatment fit for 
intellectual beings? Objects of immediate concern — 
abolition of impressment and flogging; secondly, intro- 
duction of adult education — regimental libraries and insti- 
tutions like Mechanics' Institutions. We, the people, have 
been almost at the mercy of a body of men who know 
little or nothing but the art of destroying others. When 
we put arms into the hands of men, we should also put 
knowledge into their heads, and a love of virtue, if possible, 
into their hearts. If we could do this an army would not 
be the dangerous thing it is. I think this important and 
well timed, and, if well managed, it will tend to conciliate 
the soldiers and sailors ; and the people are likely to feel 
the necessity of the measure from having just seen the 
sword almost drawn over their heads. 

" Yours affectfy. , 

«E. Hill." 

io8 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. VI. 

From the same. 

"B. C, August 13, 1832. 

"Dear Fred^ 

" Rowland says you have spare time. I think 
something will be done soon by Government in the matter 
of general education. Should you like to lay down clearly 
a few of the broadest principles which should govern such 
a proceeding ? Such a work would probably be very 
useful. The. chief points would be the mode of holding 
the managers to responsibility as respects the efficiency 
of their teachers and the economy with which it would be 
carried on. This branches into your favourite subject of 
municipal government 

** Do you think your idea of allowing foreign representa- 
tives to sit in our Parliament could be brought forward 
well now } There is much exasperation against Nicholas 
on the score of Poland, and against the Kings of Prussia 
and Hanover and the Emperor of Austria for their attempts 
to put down the Press in Germany. I think anything 
which showed how the States which are governed by 
representatives of the inhabitants could be brought to 
coalesce, and thus to form a compact opposing body, would 
be cordially welcomed if not too startling in its nature ; 
or, rather, if not put forward in too startling a form, for 
people start more often at manner than at matter. 

" Yours affectionately, 

«E. Hill." 

I adopted the suggestion thrown out by Edwin, 
and after collecting a great deal of information as 
to the state of education in Great Britain, on the 
Continent, and in America, I wrote a book entitled 

1832.] ''NATIONAL education:' 109 

"National Education, its Present State and Pros- 
pects." In my introduction I remark that "the 
subject of education has at length acquired a strong 
interest in the public mind," and that even "the 
timid and feeble-minded are finding out that the 
imagined monster on which they had not dared 
steadily to fix their eyes is, in fact, a most friendly 
and benign power. In a word, that popular know- 
ledge, instead of being a source of danger and 
insecurity, is the best guarantee for public tranquillity 
and the rights of property." 

Whilst the work was still in progress I received 
a kind and encouraging letter from our friend Mr. 
Charles Knight, who offered to publish it This he 
did in 1836. 

Amongst private letters which followed the ap- 
pearance of " National Education," the name of one 
writer is of general interest. Joanna Baillie wrote 
to my sister-in-law, Mrs. Matthew Hill, to tell her 
of Lady Byron's interest in the book. She goes on 
to say — 

"Will you have the goodness to let Mr. F. Hill know 
this, and thank him again for his goodness in bestowing 
upon me this copy of his useful and able work, which I 
have read with much interest ? It is cleverly written, and 
in a candid, good spirit, and will, I hope, make a beneficial 
impression on the public." 



The subject of currency first interested us during 
this period. My brother Edwin and I entered into 
a series of discussions upon it with each other. We 
invited Rowland to join us, but he had too many 
other matters in hand to be able to do so. Edwin 
and I both gradually formed opinions which re- 
mained unchanged in after-life, and which we have 
advocated as occasion offered. One of these was 
in favour of a paper currency. Many years later 
Edwin published his work upon the '* Principles of 
Currency, Means of securing Uniformity of Value 
and Adequacy of Supply." 

In the year 1832 we established what we called 
the " Family Fund." Its object was to secure 
every member of our family (five of whom were 
now married) from pecuniary anxiety. The neces- 
sary expenditure of each branch of the family 
was assessed, and half the remaining surplus 
income, in each case, was handed over annually 
to the ** Family Fund." Its management, together 
with the selection of investments, was entrusted 
to me. 

This fund continued in being for twenty-four 
years; at the end of which time the general con- 
dition of our family had so far improved that all 
pecuniary anxieties had disappeared. The balance, 
which had much increased in amount, was then 

i833.] " FAMIL Y FUND."" 1 1 1 

divided ; each person's share being in proportion to 
his original contribution. 

On the dissolution of the ** Family Fund" we issued 
a short printed address to the " Junior Members of 
the Hill Family," to explain to them the nature of 
this fund. The address is signed by my four 
brothers and myself, and bears the date of July, 
1856. It closes with these words : — 

"In such a union, beyond the mere material benefit, 
there naturally arises a moral influence of considerable 
power, and of this we have experienced the advantage, our 
connection having been sufHciently close to give each of 
us, in a great measure, the benefit of the experience, 
knowledge, and judgment of all the others, and to secure 
to each that friendly advice of which every one, some 
time or other, stands in need. 

** We attribute such success as has attended our family 
very much to the spirit of co-operation which was recom- 
mended to us by our parents during their lives and on 
their death-beds ; and which we, in turn, living and dying, 
would recommend to our successors." 

In 1833 the repeal of the Corn Laws began to 
be widely discussed. My friend Mr. Charles 
Villiers was the first person, according to my recol- 
lection, to bring the subject before the House of 
Commons. I had furnished him, previously, with 
some information on the subject, and had made a 
calculation of the loss to the country caused by 


those bad laws. My calculation was founded on 
the price of bread and flour in the Channel Islands 
(to which the Corn Laws did not extend) as com- 
pared with the whole estimated cost of bread and 
flour in this country. My estimate was not, of 
course, more than a rough approximation, but it 
showed the annual loss to this country to be, at 
least, ten millions sterling. 

It is well known how Cobden and Bright came 
forward as champions of this great cause. Writing 
many years later, Cobden's biographer relates 

" strange as it may appear, they both at different stages 
of the Corn Law agitation contemplated withdrawal from 
the great movement. Both had worked hard for years 
to overthrow the gigantic evils of the Corn Laws, and yet 
success seemed distant Bright had lost his wife (in 
September, 1841), and was cast down with grief. Cobden 
visited him in the midst of his despondency, spoke kind 
words, and then recalled to his mind the thousands of 
poor widows and children who, at that moment, were 
starving for bread through the cruel laws against which 
they two had been so long protesting. * Come with me,' 
he said, ' and we will never rest till we abolish the Corn 
Laws.' John Bright rose to the summons." * 

The long struggle for the repeal of the Corn 
Laws is matter of history. Enemies of all classes 

• See *' Richard Cobden," by F. BuUocL 

1833.] EARLY AMBITION. 113 

had to be fought. The Tories were against it, and 
many among the working classes were also against 
it, as they feared, in their ignorance, that cheap 
bread would cause low wages. Even Lord Mel- 
bourne, in the House of Commons, said that '* any 
man who could seriously advocate the repeal of the 
Corn Laws must be mad." 

It was not till the year 1846 that die measure 
was finally carried. 

To return to my own personal narrative. 

In the year 1827 a branch of our school had 
been started at Bruce Castle, Tottenham, near 
London, and six years later it was deemed advisable 
for the whole school to remove thither. We there- 
fore quitted Birmingham and came to reside at 

I had assisted my father and brothers in teaching 
ever since I reached the age of thirteen. I enjoyed 
my work, but I hoped for a different career in the 

Even in early boyhood I had conceived a strong 
wish to obtain some day a useful and important post 
under Government. When I first mentioned my 
ambition to my brother Matthew, he laughed and 
said, " You remind me of the boy who wished to be 
apprenticed to a bishop." However, I continued 
to cherish the idea, and when, in 1833, the family 


114 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. VI. 

had but one school to manage instead of two, my 
assistance was no longer necessary, and I began to 
consider what steps I should take towards gaining 
my object. I determined, on Matthew's advice, to 
be called to the Bar to facilitate my entrance into 
the Civil Service, and to that end entered my name 
as a student of Lincoln's Inn. 

Being ''called " in those days was a very different 
affair from what it is now. No study of the law 
was required, and there was no examination. When, 
some time later, the last of the prescribed dinners 
had been eaten, I was conducted to the upper end 
of Lincoln's Inn Hall and introduced to one of the 
benchers. A manuscript was then placed in my 
hands containing the opening part of a trial, and 
I was desired to read it aloud. I had scarcely, 
however, uttered a few words when the bencher 
made me a slight bow, which indicated his perfect 
satisfaction in my legal acquirements, and was also 
a sign that the ceremony was concluded. 

In the year 1834 I was fortunate in obtaining 
the post of parliamentary secretary to Mr. Sergeant 
Wilde (afterwards Lord Truro), who was an intimate 
friend of my brother Matthew. In this capacity 
I had to furnish Mr. Wilde with accurate informa- 
tion upon any subject on which he intended to 
speak, and at his request I used to draw up, as a 


kind of brief, a statement of the various points at 

In 1835 the Duke of Richmond introduced into 
Parliament and carried a Bill for the appointment 
of inspectors of prisons. At the suggestion of my 
friend Mr. Charles P. Villiers, I applied for one of 
the nominations. The appointments rested with 
Lord John Russell, then Home Secretary. My 
application was supported by many influential 
friends ; amongst these were Sergeant Wilde, Joseph 
Hume, Charles P. Villiers, Joseph Scholefield, J. 
Brotherton, Edward Baines, and Thomas Thornely 
(all members of Parliament). Thus my long- 
cherished desire to obtain a Government post, with 
a field for administration, seemed likely to be 

Well do I remember the arrival of the letter 
from Lord John Russell informing me that I was 
appointed an inspector of prisons. I was sitting 
reading in Matthew's chambers in Chancery Lane, 
and such was my delight that I skipped about the 
room for joy, and, tradition says, jumped over a 
chair ! 

At my interview with Lord John Russell he said 
to me, " Mr. Hill, I have chosen Scotland as your 
chief district, because there is most work to be done 
there, and I know you will do it." 

ii6 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. VI. 

The counties of Northumberland and Durham 
were also to be under my supervision. 

I am tempted to insert a kind note which I 
received from Mr. Sergeant Wilde on my resigning 
my post as his parliamentary secretary. 

" Temple, October lo, 1835. 
"My dear Hill, 

"... I cannot part with you without assuring 
you that the communication between us has been a source 
of unmixed satisfaction to me, and the interruption is 
matter of regret, as I have had great reason to appreciate 
highly your intelligence, attention, and kindness to me. 
" I remain 

" Very truly yours, 

"Thos- Wilde." 

Soon after receiving my appointment I met Mr. 
Robert Owen, the well-known enthusiast. He 
accosted me with these words : " Now, Mr. Hill, 
I have one piece of advice to give you, which is, 
that you begin by telling the prison authorities 
that up to this time they have been entirely in the 
wrong." I need scarcely say that I did not adopt 
this mode of ingratiating myself with my official 

Before leaving London I visited some of our 
prisons and houses of refuge. 

My visits to Newgate caused me to become 
acquainted with Mrs. Fry. On one occasion I was 

1835.] ^R^' FRY AT NEWGATE. in 

present when she addressed the female prisoners, 
who were all assembled in a large room for that 
purpose. The address consisted almost entirely 
of selected portions of the Bible, which she read 
slowly and in a fine melodious voice, pausing every 
now and then to give her hearers time for reflection. 
Her manner was very impressive; I noticed that 
many of the women were moved to tears. 

In the course of conversation afterwards Mrs. 
Fry told me of her first experiences in visiting 
Newgate. When she asked for permission to visit 
the female prisoners the officer in charge, though 
granting her request, strongly advised her against 
such a proceeding, warning her that she would 
probably be attacked and robbed. Undaunted, 
however, Mrs. Fry carried out her intention, and 
she assured me that, far from being attacked, she 
met with respect on all sides. 

She found the poor women all idle. No work 
was provided for them. Her first efforts were 
directed to remedy this great evil. 

I asked Mrs. Fry what she found to be the chief 
thought of a prisoner under sentence of death 
shortly before her execution. Her reply was : " I 
grieve to say that commonly the chief thought 
relates to her appearance on the scaffold, the dress 
in which she shall be hanged." 

ii8 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. VI. 

Mrs. Fry gave me a book written by her brother, 
Mr. Joseph John Gurney, entitled, " Notes on a 
Visit made to Some of the Prisons in Scotland and 
the North of England in Company with Elizabeth 
Fry." It was published in 1819. A terrible 
picture is there drawn of the condition of some of 
our prisons. 

I received the following note from her with 
the book : — 

"Upton Lodge, 17th instant 

"Dear Friend, 

** I am glad to say I have found one of our books 
on the Scotch prisons that my brother, J. J. Gurney, and 
myself visited in 1 8 19. Of course, since that period there 
are in some great alterations, but improvements are yet 
much needed in most of the jails in that country. 

" I hope thou wilt have a useful and profitable expedition. 
" And believe me, under esteem, 

" Thy friend, 

"Eliz™. Fry. 
"P.S. — I have forwarded other books that may amuse 
thee on thy journey." 

( "9 ) 



Arrival in Edinburgh— John Archibald Murray— Ffarst tour of 
inspection of prisons. 

I LEFT London by the stage-coach on the 30th of 
October, and, travelling without stopping on the 
road, reached Edinburgh on the ist of November. 
It was evening when the coach drew up at an inn 
on the northern side of the North Bridge, and I 
was much struck by the sight of the towering mass 
of the Castle rock with its twinkling lights. 

I slept that night at an inn in Prince's Street, 
and early the next morning walked over the Calton 
Hill and Arthurs Seat, my mind filled with their 
associations and delighted with the magnificent 

I had a cordial reception from the Lord Advocate, 
Sir John (afterwards Lord) Murray, who was a 
friend of my brother Matthew's. From the first 
day of my arrival his house was thrown open to me, 


and thus began a friendship which lasted to the 
end of his life, and which was a source of much 
pleasure and profit to me. Sir John Murray took 
a great interest in prison reform. I obtained at 
once from him useful information respecting the 
leading men in Scotland, and, in a few days' time, 
he called a meeting of the whole body of the 
principal local judges, or sheriffs-depute, as they 
are called, to confer with me respecting the prisons. 
They gave me a friendly and gratifying reception, 
as did afterwards the sheriffs-substitute in their 
various districts. 

I began my first tour of inspection within a week 
of my arrival in Edinburgh. 

I knew beforehand that the Scotch prisons were 
in a bad state, but the picture that gradually 
unfolded itself before my eyes was far worse than 
anything I had anticipated. 

Mrs. Fry, who visited them in the year 1819, 
thus describes the Scotch gaols : — 

"The construction and management may be shortly 
enumerated as follows : No airing-grounds ; no change of 
rooms; tubs in the prisoners' cells for the reception of 
every kind of filth ; black holes ; no religious services ; 
jailers living away from their prisons, consequently an 
impossibility of any inspection and an almost total absence 
of care ; free communication through the windows with 
the public" 


She goes on to speak of the dirty straw for 
bedding, the unglazed windows, the cold, damp 
cells, and the hopeless, idle condition of the 
unfortunate inmates. 

This, then, is what I saw, with but few excep- 
tions, when, sixteen years later, I entered on my 
duties as inspector. 

Referring to my early reports, I find every 
circumstance of importance recorded. 

The prisons, as buildings, were utterly unfit for 
the use to which they had been applied. Many 
were old houses out of repair, and were as insecure 
as they were unwholesome resorts for human beings. 
Some of the cells were actually vaults below ground, 
that during rainy weather were a foot deep in 

In these places criminals were herded together, 
young and old, good or bad, without any distinction 
as to their various offences, and were left to corrupt 
one another. No work was provided, and they 
passed their time in idleness, drunkenness, and 

The aphorism still held good in Scotland that 
" the country at great expense kept State schools 
for immorality." 

The Sheriff-Substitute of Dundee told me that 
he had great reluctance in sentencing a person to 

122 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. VH. 

even a short period of confinement in the gaol of 
his district, as he felt in so doing he was "con- 
demning the offender to the loss of every good 
trait that might remain in his character." 

At Inverness a youth named Mackintosh was 
sentenced to death for killing a fellow-prisoner in 
a quarrel about a bottle of whisky. I happened 
to reach Inverness just as his trial ended. I con- 
sulted the judge (Lord Mackenzie) on the propriety 
of petitioning for the life of Mackintosh on the 
ground of his having been corrupted by the bad 
state of the gaol. He approved, and the result was 
that the lad's sentence was commuted* 

The prison-keepers were quite unequal to their 
difficult task. Their pay was so small that able, 
well-educated men were not obtainable. In one 
of the smallest prisons, that of Crail, in Fife, the 
gaoler's yearly salary was only one pound. The 
gaolers, in many cases, did not live in the prisons, 
but merely visited them in the daytime. With 
but few exceptions there were no female officers, 
so that the women were entirely under the charge 
of men. 

In many cases the prisons were a nuisance to 
the neighbourhood, owing to the profane language 
that was shouted to persons walking beneath the 


Communication was carried on, to a great extent, 
with the outer world, so that the prisoners had no 
difficulty in obtaining whisky, or even tools to 
enable them to escape. At Huntly Gaol it was 
found impossible to keep a prisoner in safe custody 
unless an officer on guard was constantly with him. 
At Kinross I found that the gaoler, who lived at 
a considerable distance, was indebted for the safe 
custody of the criminal prisoners during the night 
to the vigilance of the debtors. Observing a bell- 
rope hanging near the entrance of their room, I 
inquired its use. '*0h, sir," replied the gaoler, 
"that is for the debtors to ring the alarm-bell 
when aay prisoner is trying to get away." 

It appeared that this gaoler was sometimes com- 
pelled to get his good friends, the debtors, to 
protect him against personal violence. On one 
occasion they informed him that two of the 
criminal prisoners had armed themselves with bars, 
which they had forced off their iron bedsteads, and 
were ready to attack him and seize the keys. The 
gaoler and the debtors, however, being prepared 
for the encounter, went into the cell and compelled 
the men to surrender. 

An odd instance of escape from this same prison 
came to the knowledge of Lord Moncrieff, when 
he was Sheriff of Kinross-shire. 


"There was a culprit, a native of Alloa, who was 
thought to be too powerful for the gaol of that place ; 
so they hired a chaise and sent officers with him to the 
gaol of Kinross, where he was lodged. But before the 
horses were fed for their return he broke out. He waited 
till the officers set off, and then returned to Alloa, without 
their knowing it, on the back of the chaise that had brought 
him to Kinross with them in it'' * 

At Brechin Gaol I found a wretched vault below 
ground, called by the prisoners the "black hole," 
still in use, although it had been pronounced by 
the sheriff to be "unfit for a dog." The prison 
was very insecure. I was told that on one Sunday 
morning there was a great commotion in Brechin 
Church. The magistrates were called from their 
devotions by a messenger who entered, post haste, 
to inform them that all the prisoners had run 
away ! 

At Kirkwall, in the Orkney Islands, the gaol 
formed the basement and the second story of the 
town-house. In wet weather the rain came freely 
through the roof into the upper cell ; but bad as 
was the condition of this room, it was a region 
of comfort compared with the lower cells, which 
I found cold and damp, though it was summer 
when I visited the place. In the winter, the gaoler 
told me, the floors were often covered with water. 
• See Lord Cockbum's *' Circuit Journeys." 


In this wretched building I found a young woman. 
The cell was so dark that I could not see her 
clearly, but I observed that she had a dirty and 
forlorn appearance. I asked her when she had 
last washed herself, and her answer was, "Last 

These prisons, bad as they were, had not even 
a deterrent effect upon criminals. Their insecurity, 
and the absence of anything like discipline, made 
them welcome refuges to the most depraved as 
well as to the homeless petty offenders, who had 
no poorhouse to shelter them. 

I have already spoken of the absence of all 
classification of the prisoners. At Inverness I 
found two men shut up together day and night, 
one of whom had committed some trifling theft, 
while the other had killed his wife in a drunken 
brawl. This last, after an imprisonment of only 
six months, was to be again let loose upon 

In another cell of the same prison I found a 
man of a very different stamp. His appearance 
indicated that steady character and intelligent mind 
so often met with in Scotland. I was surprised 
to see him in prison. On inquiry I found he was 
a native of Skye, and that he had been sent over 
to the gaol at Inverness for selling some goods 


by auction without a licence. Probably the offence 
was committed in ignorance of the state of the 
law. I made inquiries as to his allowance for 
food, and learnt, to my surprise, that he was 
receiving none whatever, and was wholly dependent 
for subsistence upon the charity of his fellow- 
prisoners. On his entering the prison, some weeks 
previously, his petition for food had been sent to 
the Board -of Excise, but no answer had as yet 
arrived. I was told that another man, who had 
been recently confined on a charge of private dis- 
tillation, had remained there for more than three 
months without receiving any allowance for food. 
I found, on the contrary, that the criminals were 
getting sixpence a day for this purpose with perfect 

At Tain I was again surprised by the respectable 
appearance of one of the prisoners — a young fisher- 
man. The cause of his imprisonment was a curious 
one. He believed his boat to have been bewitched, 
so that his fishing was spoilt, and that the only way 
to break the spell was to draw blood from the 
witch. He told me he '* didna prick the auld wife 
mair than was just absolutely necessary " ! 

The laws concerning debtors, at the period of 
which I am writing, were peculiar. In the case 
of an escape of a debtor the town authorities 


became liable for the whole amount of his debts, 
and this liability held good even in the event of 
his being recaptured. An instance of the kind 
occurred in the Forfar Gaol. Two debtors ran 
away; but, probably finding their own homes still 
less comfortable than their prison abode, they 
voluntarily returned. The creditors, however, 
having learnt what had taken place, at once com- 
menced proceedings against the town for the 
amount of their claim, and the magistrates were 
glad to compromise the matter by the payment* of 
seven hundred pounds. 

A curious instance occurred at Dingwall, where 
the prison formed part of the town-house. A 
debtor who had not escaped, nor even desired to 
do so, was judged, from a legal point of view, to 
have run away. What happened was as follows : — 
A public meeting had been held in the court-room 
which adjoined the debtor's cell, and the gaoler had 
given the prisoner leave to attend it. This fact 
coming to the knowledge of the creditor, he at once 
threatened the bailies with an action for the whole 
amount of the debt, and they were obliged to 
pay it. 

After a time this gaol was closed for repairs, and 
when these had been effected an application was 
made to the Court of Justiciary to again legalize 

128 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. VH. 

the building for the reception of criminals. But 
the bailies took care that no request should be 
made concerning the reception of debtors. Know- 
ing as they did that the prison was still insecure, 
they determined to run no risk of again paying 
other people's debts ; compared with that danger 
they evidently looked upon the escape of criminals 
as a trifling matter. 

In Scotland the cost of maintenance of a 
prisoner had to be defrayed by the inhabitants of 
the particular district in which the crime was com- 
mitted. These districts were so small that it was 
often better for the little community to let an 
offender escape altogether than to incur the expense 
of his detention. 

In those days large bands of vagabonds called 
'* tinkers " used to wander about the country com- 
mitting thefts and depredations on all sides. I 
heard many heavy complaints against them, and 
learnt that farmers and other persons living in 
retired places found it their best policy to overlook 
many offences rather than to bring the hostility of 
the gang upon them by sending for the police ; a 
force which, in the rural districts, moreover, was 
often very insufficient. A gentleman, living near 
Arbroath, told me that a gang of these tinkers 
settled themselves upon his property and became 


a great nuisance. He sent a warning to them that 
if they did not depart at once he should call in the 
police ; to which they coolly replied that they should 
remain where they chose, but added that if he 
would give them half the money that it would 
cost him to employ the police they would consent 
to go. 

When the tinkers carried on their lawless traffic 
in the towns, the usual plan was to have them 
arrested and locked up for the night, but early 
on the following morning to have them conducted 
beyond the boundaries of the parish and then set 
at liberty, in the hope that their next offence would 
be committed in some other district. This plan, 
however, proved of little avail, for the band was so 
numerous that by the time the last in the chain 
had left a town on one side, the first had generally 
completed his tour, and was ready to enter it on 
the other. 

The clashing interests of counties and burghs 
gave rise to endless disputes, and was constantly 
tending to prevent the adoption of a good and 
uniform system of prison discipline. The differ- 
ence which existed in the treatment of prisoners 
in various parts of the country was almost equiva- 
lent to a variety of laws respecting the same 
offence ; so that a man was frequently punished, 



not according to the magnitude of his crime, but 
according to the latitude and longitude of the 
place where his crime was committed. 

The appointment of the county prison keepers 
was in the hands of the Commissioners of Supply, 
as they were called. These were, for the most 
part, country gentlemen, who had no knowledge 
on the subject of prison discipline. The burgh 
prison keepers were appointed by the burgh magis- 
trates, or ** bailies." These bailies were unpaid 
officials, quite ignorant of prison matters, and were 
under no controlling authority. The result can 
be easily imagined. Most of the keepers had 
no idea of any duty beyond the safe custody 
of their prisoners, and some of them presented 
examples of drunkenness and profligacy as bad, 
perhaps, as could be found amongst the prisoners 

My earliest efforts at reform were directed to 
bringing these abuses to an end. I had much 
opposition to encounter. I remember one instance 
in which the bailies were deaf to my representa- 
tions, and persisted in retaining a bad keeper who 
had formerly been their boon-companion, I had, 
however, made the discovery that this man was 
selling spirits to the prisoners, which act was a 
criminal offence. I therefore declared to the 


assembled bailies that if he were not discharged 
before I left the committee-room, I should write to 
the Lord Advocate to request that the keeper might 
be brought to a public trial. Upon this the order 
for his dismissal was given at once. Notwith- 
standing their defeat, however, the bailies ventured 
to appoint a new keeper of equally bad character, 
but on my warning them that full particulars of 
their action would be given in my report to the 
Secretary of State, they threw down the cards, 
and in a sullen manner told me to choose a keeper 

I may here mention a method for detecting 
falsehood which I sometimes employed. When I 
had reason to believe that an officer was telling 
me an untruth, I required him to look me full in 
the face and repeat his statement. I never knew 
an instance in which a guilty person could do this 
without flinching. Some years later I learnt from 
Mr. Scrimgeour, the manager of the Union Bank 
of London, that he had adopted the same plan 
for detecting fraud, and had found it successful. 

I took care that my inspections should be un- 
expected. Not only was the day unknown, but 
even the hour. I sometimes made my appearance 
at the prison gate at five o'clock in the morning, 
and sometimes after nightfall. I remember one 


instance in which I rang the door bell as the clock 
was striking the hour of midnight. A keeper 
would sometimes remark, " If I had only known 
of your coming, sir, I would have had everything 
in nice order." 

Amid the general state of wretched mismanage- 
ment which my first tour of inspection revealed, I 
had the pleasure of finding one prison in a very 
different state. The Glasgow Bridewell, owing to 
the individual effort of one man of an enlightened 
mind, of sterling worth and great benevolence, pre- 
sented a scene of order and moral improvement. 
Its able governor, Mr. Brebner, together with these 
excellent qualities, possessed much insight into 
character. I was indebted to him for important 
aid in obtaining good prison officers. 

I must make one more exception to my general 
condemnation of the Scotch prisons. The Aberdeen 
Bridewell, though not to be compared with the 
Glasgow Bridewell, was in a better condition than 
that of the rest of the gaols. 

One of the means which I adopted for obtaining 
a constant knowledge of the state of each of the 
prisons, was to require the governors to send me 
a monthly report. In this they had to answer a 
number of specific questions prepared by me. I 
encouraged them, at the same time, to add other 


information, and to make any suggestions that 
seemed useful. 

On the 3rd of February, 1836, I forwarded to 
Lord John Russell my first ** Report on the Prisons 
of Scotland." 

In this report I had given a detailed account of 
the various abuses which existed, together with a 
list of the remedial measures which I proposed. 

Amongst these I suggested that the management 
of all the prisons in Scotland should be placed 
under one directing authority to be appointed by 
Government, and that the cost of the prisons and 
prisoners should be defrayed out of one general fund. 

I proposed that the principle of entire separation 
of prisoner from prisoner should be immediately 
carried into effect, and should be provided for in 
the construction of all new prisons. 

I urged the employment of female officers to 
attend on the women. 

I advised the introduction of profitable labour (all 
prisoners being required to work), and suggested 
that such trades should be taught as would enable 
them to earn an honest livelihood on leaving prison. 

I also proposed that a general refuge should be 
provided for juvenile offenders after they had left 
prison, and that an asylum should be erected for 
the reception of all criminal lunatics. 



Edinburgh society in its second famous period — Lord Jeffrey, 
Lord Cockbum, Lord Murray, and others — James Aber- 
cromby on Peel's character — Sydney Smith and Mr. Home 
— Mrs. Fletcher — Mrs. Siddons — The " Bride of Lammer- 
moor " — The brothers Chambers — David Roberts, the painter 
— Miss Stirling Graham's " Mystifications." 

On finishing my first tour of inspection of the 
prisons I took up my residence in Edinburgh. 

In those days, before the age of railways, Edin- 
burgh was, as it were, a place set apart, enjoying 
its own peculiar characteristics and unaffected by 
the centralizing tendencies of London. 

"Philosophy had become indigenous in the place, and 
all classes, even in their gayest hours, were proud of the 
presence of its cultivators. Thus learning was improved 
by society, and society by learning, and, unless party spirit 
interfered, perfect harmony and, indeed, lively cordiality 
prevailed." * 

Edinburgh was the field, too, of Sir Walter Scott's 
genius — a genius which had made the old town 
• See Cockbum's "Life of Jeffrey." 


famous throughout the civilized world. But the 
figure of the author with the "high Goldsmith 
forehead, the unkempt locks and the halting limb," 
had disappeared when I came to Scotland. His 
spirit, however, still seemed to linger in his "own 
romantic town.*' Sir Walter lived in the affections 
of all who had ever known him, and I heard stories 
of him and references to him on all sides. 

Had I received my appointment but a few years 
earlier, I should have had official relations with the 
author of " Waverley," and must then have had the 
happiness of knowing him personally. 

One of the most prominent figures in Edinburgh 
society, as I first knew it, was Lord Jeffi-ey. Three 
years before my arrival, the great battle for Parlia- 
mentary Reform had been fought and won ; and " to 
no individual had the country looked for guidance 
so much as to Jeffrey." After the passing of the 
Reform Bill he was elected, together with Mr. 
James Abercromby, to represent the city of Edin- 
burgh in Parliament. Mrs. Fletcher, in her interest- 
ing autobiography, thus describes the scene of the 
election : — 

"It was during the winter of 1832-3 that the hustings 
were erected for the first time at the Cross of Edinburgh, 
for the popular election of the members for the city under 
the new Reform Bill. 


" At length, in December, came the day of election, and 
we were kindly invited by the Lord Advocate and Mrs. 
Jeffrey to their house in Moray Place, to see the members 
brought home in triumph. The citizens of Edinburgh did 
themselves honour in choosing two such representatives 
as James Abercromby, the Speaker of the House of 
Commons, and Francis Jeffrey, then Lord Advocate ; men 
not less eminent for their talents than for their public 
spirit and courage in supporting the cause of civil and 
religious liberty, both in and out of Parliament. ... It 
was a glorious sight for us to see these truly honest men 
borne home amidst the acclamation of tens of thousands 
of their grateful and emancipated countrymen. We stood 
by them on the balcony of Mr. Jeffrey's house while they 
shortly returned thanks to the people." 

To this account Mrs. Fletchers daughter adds 
the following note : — 

** Lord Cockburn was more excited by joy on that day 
even than we were. I well remember his way of rushing 
into the drawing-room and looking round the crowd of 
Whig ladies and girls who were present, and calling out, 
'Where's Mrs. Fletcher? She's the woman that I want' 
And when my mother came from the window to meet him, 
they clasped each other's hands and had a good 'greet' 
together* But not many words were said before there was 
a call for * Cockburn ' from the crowd without, and he 
went to the balcony to respond to the call, and made a 
short speech of deep feeling which was cheered long and 

Mrs. Fletcher I knew well. Her husband, Archi- 


:^r r 

U 4^<^L^ ^ut^nM^ ml<^^>^ CM^\.^*-^y 



bald Fletcher, who had died in 1828, was almost 
the father of Burgh Reform in Scotland. Lord 
Cockburn thus describes him : — 

, " A pure and firm patriot, never neglecting any oppor- 
tunity of resisting oppression, ashamed of no romance of 
public virtue. In all his patriotism he was encouraged 
by his amiable and high-minded wife, of whom Lord 
Brougham says, most justly, that 'with the utmost purity 
of life that can dignify and enhance female charms, she 
combined the inflexible principles and deep political feeling 
of a Hutchinson and a Roland.' " 

To return to Lord Jeffrey. His great powers 
of mind shone brilliantly in his conversation. 

Nothing could be further from the truth than 
the idea which prevailed at that time in England 
that he was dogmatic, sarcastic, and regardless 
of the feelings of those with whom he conversed. 
I experienced nothing of the sort, but found him, 
on the contrary, affable, lively, and kind. 

His intimate friend. Lord Cockburn, says — 

" Speaking seemed necessary for his existence. The 
intellectual fountains were so full that they were always 
bubbling over, and it would have been painful to restrain 
them. But, amidst all his fluency of thought and all his 
variety of matter, a great part of the delight of his con- 
versation arose from its moral qualities. Let him be as 
bold, as free, and as incautious and hilarious as he might, 
no sentiment could escape him that tended to excuse 


inhumanity or meanness, or that failed to cherish high 
principles and generous affections. Then the language 
in which this talent and worth were disclosed ! The very 
words were a delight. Copious and sparkling, they often 
imparted nearly as much pleasure as the merry or the 
tender wisdom they conveyed. ... It may appear an odd 
thing to say, but it is true that the listener's pleasure was 
enhanced by the personal littleness of the speaker. A 
large man could scarcely have thrown off Jeffrey's con- 
versational flowers without exposing himself to ridicule. 
But the liveliness of the deep thoughts and the flow of 
the bright expressions that animated his talk seemed 
so natural and appropriate to the figure that uttered 
them, that they were heard with something of the delight 
with which the slenderness of the trembling throat and 
the quivering of the wings make us enjoy the strength 
and clearness of the notes of a little bird." 

My friend Mr. Francis Home,* a man of ardent 
feelings but courtly manners, was once travelling 
by stage-coach from Edinburgh to London, when, 
at the dinner-table of a wayside inn, he fell in 
with a tall portly gentleman who had lately joined 
the coach. Mr. Home let fall some expression 
which showed whence he came, whereupon his 
fellow-traveller turned to him, saying, " I perceive, 
sir, that you have just come from Edinburgh. 
Pray how's little Jeffrey ? " 

Mr. Home, almost aghast at such a question, 

♦ Pronounced in Scotland Hume, 

1836.] " THE DUNCE OF HIS FORM.'' i39 

replied, " Sir, when I left Edinburgh Lord Jeffrey- 
was very well ; and, sir," he added, looking his 
companion full in the face, " I have yet to learn 
that a great mind is always to be found in a 
bulky body." 

A peal of genial laughter was the only reply 
from the tall portly gentleman, who was none 
other than Sydney Smith. He at once entered 
into conversation, proposed that they should ride 
together inside the coach for the remainder of the 
journey, and on arriving in London invited Mr. 
Home to visit him. 

I was glad to learn from Lord Jeffrey that his 
views on the subject of the Poor Law coincided 
with my own, and that he did not hold the 
opinions of the Malthusians, then very prevalent 
in Scotland. 

With Lord Cockburn I had much intercourse. 
He was a man strong both in head and heart, 
and was, like Jeffrey, one of the foremost leaders 
of the Scotch Whig party. His face was a striking 
one, with " his clear eyes and grand forehead." 

I remember his telling me that when he was 
at the Edinburgh High School he was " the dunce 
of his form"— a fact showing either a wonderful 
subsequent growth of intellect, or else a great 
blunder on the part of his teachers; a blunder 


suggesting the suspicion that they may have had 
a greater claim than himself to the dunce s cap. 

My friend Mr. Simpson used to tell a story 
of Cockburn and Telford, the engineer. Cockburn 
had possessed himself by chance of a copy of 
doggerel verses which Telford had written when 
a young man, and of which he was heartily 
ashamed. The more his fame increased the more 
desirous Telford became that these verses should 
be buried in oblivion. At times the worthy engi- 
neer was inclined to be dogmatic in company, and 
on these occasions Lord Cockburn, who had learnt 
every line of the unlucky poem by heart, used, 
by some bold stroke, to make occasion to quote 
them, ushering them in with the words, "as the 
delightful author of So-and-so says," or, "as is 
well expressed in those beautiful lines." Instantly 
poor Telford became mute, all spirit left him, and 
he was perfectly subdued. The talisman never 
failed, and at last Telford implored Cockburn's 

I recollect a conversation with Lord Cockburn 
on the subject of the payment of procurators fiscal 
by fees. I mentioned to him that in talking with 
prisoners I not unfrequently found that they enter- 
tained a belief that the cause of their being in 
gaol was the desire of the " fiscal " to put a fee 


of two guineas into his pocket. This evil, I 
thought, might be readily obviated by paying the 
procurators a fixed salary instead of fees on con- 
viction. Although Lord Cockburn, as a judge, 
had necessarily much to do with criminals, he said 
that the idea I had thrown out was quite new 
to him, and that he would carefully consider it. 
Some time afterwards the practice of paying pro- 
curators fiscal by fees was discontinued, and 
payment by salary was substituted. 

It is to Lord Cockburn that we owe the pre- 
servation of the grand open view of the Castle 
rock from Prince's Street. Had it not been for 
his exertions houses would have been built on what 
is now Prince's Street Gardens. He endeavoured 
also to preserve the fine trees dotted about the 
city from the axe. It is reported that on one 
occasion he exclaimed, " I would as soon cut down 
a burgess without a fair trial as cut down a burgh 

Mr. James Abercromby, the Speaker of the 
House of Commons, was the third son of Sir 
Ralph Abercromby, who defeated the French in 
the battle of Aboukir. I had much intercourse 
with him a few years later, when, as Lord Dun- 
fermline, he became a member of the Board of 
Directors of Prisons. I made notes of several of 


our conversations. One of these was on the cha- 
racter of Sir Robert Peel. Lord Dunfermline's 
view of it was new to me. He said that though 
Peel had been brought up with Tory prejudices, 
and was tricky in obtaining his ends, he believed 
his tendencies to be Liberal, and considered that 
his aspirations were all good. He said he never 
knew a man who had a greater dread of responsi- 
bility, and he added that he knew no one who 
was less able to bear up when he felt that he 
was in the wrong. As Speaker, Lord Dunfermline 
had a full opportunity of observing the counte- 
nances of the leading members. He said that 
when Sir Robert Peel was about to speak on some 
motion against his conscience, the writhings of his 
features were pitiable to behold. Lord Dunfermline 
felt sure that, he would ultimately give up the Corn 

I may here mention that my friend Dr. Johnson, 
of Birmingham, who was physician to Sir Robert 
Peel's father, and saw a good deal of Sir Robert as 
a young man, had formed exactly the same estimate 
of his character. 

Speaking of the ventilation of the House of 
Commons, Lord Dunfermline mentioned that at one 
period he had been oppressed, day after day, by 
a husky cough and headache, for which he knew 


not how to account. At last an honourable 
member made this startling announcement : " Mr. 
Speaker, I have to inform the House that we shall 
soon all be killed ! " He went on to explain that 
Dr. Reid's newly introduced hot-air apparatus had 
got out of order in the absence of its inventor, and 
that it was, upon Dr. Amott's authority, making 
the atmosphere so dry as to be most injurious to 
life ! 

Lord Dunfermline spoke of political opinion 
depending greatly upon people's trades. When he 
first stood for the representation of Edinburgh, it 
was found in canvassing the city that, as a rule, the 
shoemakers were Liberals, while the butchers were 
Tories ; that the grocers were, almost to a man, 
Liberals, while the hairdressers were Tories ; and, 
again, that the carpenters were Liberals, while the 
milkmen were Tories. 

Mr. Andrew Rutherford, who became Solicitor- 
General for Scotland in 1837, I knew. It was 
mainly to him that Scotland owed her emancipation 
from the old unjust laws relating to land. Some 
years later he was raised to the Bench as Lord 

I have already spoken of the kind welcome which 
I received on my first arrival in Edinburgh from 
the Lord Advocate, Sir John, afterwards Lord 


Murray, and of my high esteem for his character. 
At his hospitable house I had the pleasure of 
meeting with the most distinguished men of 
Edinburgh society. This "marvellously genial 
person," whose qualities were " good nature, a love 
of humour, and particularly a love of pleasant 
society," formed a central figure round whom they 
all gathered, and their welcome of myself verified 
Burns's lines — 

** Thy sons, Edina, social, kind. 
With <jpen arms the stranger haiL" 

Sir Walter Scott alludes to John Archibald 
Murray in his diary for the year 1827 : — 

" Went to dine with John Murray, where met his brother 
(Henderland), Jeffrey, Cockburn, Rutherford, and others 
of the file. Very pleasant ; capital good cheer and 
excellent wine; much laugh and fun. I do not know 
how it is, but when I am out with a party of my Opposition 
friends the day is often merrier than when with our own 
set. Is it because they are cleverer? Jeffrey and Harry 
Cockburn are, to be sure, very extraordinary men ; yet it 
is not owing to that entirely. I believe both parties meet 
with the feeling of something like novelty* We have not 
worn out our jests in daily contact. There is also a 
disposition on such occasions to be courteous and, of 
course, to be pleased." 

And, again, speaking of a similar gathering, he 
writes — 


"We had a very pleasant party. The Chief Com- 
missioner was there, Admiral Adam, J. A. Murray, Thom. 
Thomson, etc., etc. ; Sir Adam predominating and dancing, 
what he calls, his 'merry andrada' in great style. In 
short, we really laughed, and real laughter is a thing as 
rare as real tears. I must say, too, there was a luart^ a 
kindly feeling prevailed over the party." * 

Mr. William Murray of Henderland, alluded to 
above, was Sir John's elder brother. He had 
inherited the family property of Henderland. He 
lived with Sir John and Lady Murray, and was, 
^ like his brother, possessed of fine qualities in mind 
and heart 

Lady Murray made an excellent hostess, kind, 
courteous, and attentive to all her guests. She was 
an accomplished musician. Her performance on 
the pianoforte was of a high order. When I first 
knew her and her husband there was a fourth 
member of the household who was most tenderly 
beloved by all; a fine, handsome, promising boy, 
their only child. But, unhappily, he died when 
about twelve years old. 

All that I ever heard of Sir John Murray 
redounded to his honour. On one occasion an old 
lady who had quarrelled with her adopted heir 
bequeathed her entire property to Sir John. When 
the will was read he found himself, to his great 
* See Lockhart's "Life of Sir Walter Scott." 


146 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. Vni. 

surprise, possessed of wealth, while the heir- 
presumptive found himself penniless. Sir John 
made inquiries into the character of the young 
man, and receiving satisfactory answers, he quietly 
transferred back to him the whole property. Soon 
after this a lady called upon Sir John's mother, and, 
indignant at what seemed to her an act of quixotism, 
demanded, "Do you know what your son John 
has done ? " 

"Yes/' replied Mrs. Murray; "and he would not 
have been my son John if he had done anything 

Mrs. Murray lived to the advanced age of nearly 
a hundred. She had a clear memory for bygone 
events, and could describe accurately the striking 
scenes of the Rebellion of 1745. She was a niece 
of Chief Justice Mansfield. 

Sir Adam Fergusson was a marked figure in 
Edinburgh society. He was the lifelong friend of 
Sir Walter Scott, and was one of the very few 
persons to whom the " Great Unknown *' confided 
the secret of the authorship of " Waverley." Scott 
says of him, " He combined the lightest and most 
airy temper with the best and kindest disposition.'' 

Referring to my journal, I find the following : — 

" Dined at Mr. William Chambers's, and met Sir Adam 
Fergusson. Sir Adam, though an old man, has much of 

1837.1 A POErS WIFE. 147 

the animation and fire of youth, and he told stories of fifty 
years since as if they had occurred yesterday. The 
conversation happened to fall upon Home, the author of 
the tragedy of * Douglas/ with whom Sir Adam was well 
acquainted. He said that no man could be more unequally 
matched in a wife ; Mrs. Home having neither taste for 
literature, nor the slightest appreciation of literary men. 
She was infirm in health and very deaf, and she spent the 
greater part of the day on the sofa chewing nutmegs, 
always keeping a nutmeg and grater in her pocket. Soon 
after ' Douglas ' was published, an enthusiastic admirer of 
the play made a journey from London to Edinburgh on 
purpose to see its author, and great was his disappointment 
on reaching Home's house to find that he was away from 
Edinburgh. The servant asked him if he would like to 
see Mrs. Home, and he was taken upstairs, picturing as 
he went the lovely being a poet's wife must be. Her 
unprepossessing appearance dispelled his illusions, but he 
sought, by his enthusiastic admiration of her husband, to 
touch the feelings of the wife. Not one remark could he 
get, an occasional grunt being her only rejoinder. Much 
daunted, the gentleman sat silent, when the lady, with 
some spark of animation, asked if there were any prospect 
of a peace. * Yes,' he answered, glad of some conversational 
question ; * there is every hope that a glorious peace will 
soon be concluded.' 

"*0h, aye — will it mak' ony difference in the price o' 
nvXmugs ? * 

"This was too much for the visitor, and he hastily 

Mrs. Siddons was a frequent guest of Home's, 
and it was at his house that Sir Adam often met 


her. He said he never saw her smile but once, 
and then she laughed outright. It was at the 
dinner-table. Mr. Home asked Mrs. Siddons 
what wine she would drink, and upon her saying 
that she preferred porter, he told a servant-boy 
to go and fetch "a little porter." The boy soon 
returned, ushering in a little man with straps and 
badge complete, exclaiming, " This, sir, is the 
smallest porter I could find." 

I became acquainted with the Honourable Mrs. 
Stewart Mackenzie, a daughter of Lord Seaforth. 
I met her first at the house of Lord Mackenzie, 
the son of the author of the "Man of Feeling." 
I was told that all the members of Lord Seaforth s 
family were distinguished for their talents, and 
certainly I found this to be the case as regarded 
Mrs. Stewart Mackenzie. 

I well remember a conversation we had about 
Sir Walter Scott. She told me that one day, when 
she happened to be out driving with him, Sir 
Walter told her, in his powerfully graphic way, 
the story of the " Bride of Lammermoor." When 
it was finished, they were both silent for a time. 
Then Mrs. Mackenzie exclaimed, " Horrible — truly 
horrible ! I hope that story will never appear in 

Nevertheless at no distant time it did appear 


in print, as one of the Waverley Novels. *' But/' 
added Mrs. Mackenzie, *' so firm was my belief, 
at the time, that Scott was not the author of the 
novels, that even this event did not shake my 

Soon after my arrival in Edinburgh I had the 
happiness of forming the friendship of William and 
Robert Chambers. Like all those who desired 
the spread of knowledge, I had felt grateful to 
them for the excellent work they were doing in 
producing good and cheap literature. Their 
admirable Journal appeared as early as February, 
1832, and was the forerunner of the mass of cheap 
publications which gradually followed in its wake. 

The story of the lives of the two brothers, as 
told by William Chambers, is a most interesting 
and instructive piece of biography. It shows what 
talent, united with striking worth and indomitable 
energy, can accomplish in the face of what would 
seem, to ordinary men, insurmountable difficulties. 

I became most intimate with Robert, and at 
his house, in the society of his excellent wife and 
many mutual friends, I had very pleasant inter- 

During the greater part of my residence in 
Edinburgh, his sister, Miss Janet Chambers, was 
also a member of the household— a lady con- 


spicuous for her racy Scotch humour, her musical 
talents, and her warm heart In 1846 she was 
married to Mr, Henry Wills, who held an im- 
portant position on the Daily News, then recently 
started, and who was afterwards editor of House- 
hold Words. The wedding had to take place in 
London, as Mr. Wills could not be spared from 
his responsible post. I happened to be one of a 
small band of intimate friends who conducted the 
lady to the steamboat, which was lying off New- 
haven, and which was to convey her to England. 
This little incident was most kindly remembered 
by her for nearly half a century. Her death, which 
has recently occurred, deprives me of one of my 
last surviving Edinburgh friends. 

I became acquainted with Mr. Charles Maclaren, 
the first editor of the Scotsman. He had accom- 
plished a great work for reform in spreading 
Liberal opinions in Scotland, when the only exist- 
ing organ for such opinions was the Edinburgh 
Review. But the Review appealed to a more 
exclusive set of readers. It "was a sort of bishop 
over the faithful few, whilst the Scotsman was a 
missionary to the unconverted many." 

When Charles Maclaren first launched the 
Scotsman, in 18 17, the people of Scotland "were 
absolutely without voice either by vote or by 


speech. Parliamentary elections, municipal govern- 
ment, the management of public bodies — every- 
thing was in the hands of a few hundred persons," 
who "took their directions from the Government 
of the day or its proconsul. Public meetings were 
almost unknown, and a free press may be said to 
have never had an existence." 

There was no respectable opposition paper till 
the appearance of the Scotsman.* 

Mr. Maclaren was a man of most varied know- 
ledge, which he continued to improve by means 
of extensive reading to the very end of his life. 
His favourite pursuit was geology, and he spent 
many an hour wandering along the hills about 
Edinburgh, hammer in hand, adding to his collec- 
tion of fossils. He was a most amiable man. 

I find the following entry in my diary : — 

** Edinburgh, November 26, 1835. — Passed the evening 
at the Lord Advocate's, where there was a large party ; 
among others, Mr. Wigham, a quaker gentleman, to whom 
I had a letter of introduction. We had much conversa- 
tion upon prison matters. At parting Mr. Wigham said 
to me, * What can I do to forward thy views ? ' " 

He became one of my most intimate friends. 
I can never forget his kindness, and that of Mrs. 

• See ** Memoir of Charles Maclaren." 


Wigham, when they nursed me through a severe 

Mr. Wigham was a staunch Liberal. In 1840 
he nominated Mr. (afterwards Lord) Macaulay as 
member for Edinburgh, and two years later became 
chairman of the Anti-Corn Law Association. But 
although he took a deep interest concerning the 
public welfare, there was an absence of all hot 
discussions or asperity of argument in his house- 

William Chambers, describing it, says — 

"The members of the family seemed to live in an 
atmosphere of perfect composure. . . . All matters treated 
of bore reference to something practically good, connected 
with social progress. A visit to their house was as sooth- 
ing as a perusal of the fifth chapter of Matthew. I always 
came away the better for what I saw and heard." 

At Mr. Wigham's house I had the pleasure of 
meeting, on one occasion, Mr. William Lloyd 
Garrison, the ardent abolitionist, and hearing from 
him an account of the state of the anti-slavery 
question at that time in America. I also met Mr. 
Frederick Douglas, the negro who had effected his 
escape from slavery, and whose interesting " Life '' 
has since been written. 

Among my earliest friends in Scotland was Mr. 
James Simpson, Advocate. 


He was well known as an able and interesting 
lecturer, and also as the author of " Paris after 
Waterloo," in which he gave a vivid account of 
a visit to the scene of the great battle, and after- 
wards to Paris, while the news of the victory was 
fresh in all minds. 

Among the subjects to which Mr. Simpson 
directed his mind were those of medical jurispru-* 
dence and the treatment of criminals ; and he was 
one of the first, if not the very first, to show the 
many points of resemblance between crime and 
insanity. In one of our conversations he made the 
far-seeing remark that, in his opinion, '*a prison 
should be like a hospital ; to which persons are 
sent, not for a fixed period, but to be cured." 

To an 

"ardent interest in everything that related to the wel- 
fare of his race, Mr. Simpson united so happy a power 
of public speaking that in moving large bodies of men 
to enlightened and virtuous action he was almost un- 
rivalled. His admirable lectures on 'Education' and 
' Sanitary Reform,' delivered in most of the large towns 
of the kingdom, will be long remembered. . . . He never 
failed in the moral courage necessary for telling his hearers, 
whether of the upper or lower classes, of their faults ; but 
he did it in so kind a spirit, and often with so playful 
a wit, that he never seemed to give oflFence." 

Mr. Simpson was asked on one occasion, by 


the artisans of Edinburgh, to repeat a course of 
lectures on the "Formation of Character and on 
Social Improvement" which he had delivered 
twenty years previously. 

"Those who formed the deputation stated that they 
made this request because they felt they themselves had 
been 'better men, better husbands, better fathers, for 
having heard those lectures,' and that they were now 
desirous that their children should partake of the same 
benefit. On Mr. Simpson inquiring what assurance they 
had that the lectures were generally desired, they produced 
in a few days a requisition to him with three thousand 

"An entertainment, perhaps the first of its kind, was 
given by the working class of Edinburgh to some members 
of the higher grades on the occasion of presenting Mr. 
Simpson with a piece of plate as a memorial of their 
gratitude. The person who was deputed to deliver it 
(a letter-carrier) concluded his short speech with these 
words : * Still come among us, and still will we sit at 
your feet and learn ; and when that time comes when 
all that is earthly must pass away, rest assured that, be 
it the marble or the heather that covers your grave, the 
poor man's tears will water it' " * 

Mr. Simpson's daughters inherited their father's 
large-hearted benevolence as well as his ready wit. 
Many were the happy hours that I spent in the 
society of these friends. 

• See obituary article in the Spectator of September 17, 1853. 


Speaking of Mr. Simpson brings me naturally to 
speak of the brothers George and Andrew Combe, 
with whom he was intimate, and of whom I saw 
much during my residence in Edinburgh. .Both 
were noted men of the time. George Combe was 
the ardent disciple of phrenology, and one of its 
first promulgators. I did not share his opinions 
on this subject, but I valued his practical views on 
the development of mind and character. 

Andrew Combe was the author of an able treatise 
on " Physiology applied to the Preservation of 
Health." The brothers resembled each other in 
their amiable dispositions as well as in their marked 
talents. " There was more than fraternal affection 
between them ; there was devotion to each other. 
Whatever occupied the one interested the other ; 
whatever troubled the one distressed the other." 
■ George Combe married the daughter of Mrs. 
Siddons. She had a striking countenance, having 
inherited her mothers lustrous eyes. Mr. Combe, 
who had recourse to phrenology even in the choice 
of his wife, thus describes her on their marriage 
in 1833:— 

" Our feelings and perceptions are so truly in harmony 
that one would think we had been bred together during 
life. This is the result of similarity of combination of 
brain. Her anterior lobe is large, her Benevolence, Con- 


scientiousness, Firmness, Self-esteem and Love of Appro- 
bation are also amply developed; while Veneration and 
Wonder are equally moderate with my own. It is too 
soon to boast, but I have a full conviction that our happi- 
ness will be permanent, and I reckon myself to have set 
a practical example of my philosophy in marrying such 
a woman." * 

Dr. Andrew Combe's health was not robust, and 
in order to enable himself to fulfil the duties of 
his profession, he laid down rigid rules for his 
daily conduct I recollect that one of these rules 
was, ''At II a.m. always to be lively ; " accordingly 
at that hour the doctor was to be found capering 
about his room ! 

Mr. Peter Nimmo, the private secretary of Lord 
Murray, was a man of very attractive qualities, with 
whom I had constant intercourse. 

He introduced me, on one occasion, to David 
Roberts, the painter. This delightful artist was of 
humble origin, but was never ashamed of it, and 
showed every filial respect and attention to his 
shepherd- father and his mother. The old couple 
were visiting their son when he had a party of 
brother artists and others at his house. Mr. 
Nimmo, who had some chat with them, expressed 
a hope that they were enjoying their visit. The 

* See " Life of George Combe," by Charles Gibbon. 


old shepherd replied, " Ou, we're weel eno' wi* our 
Davy and his friends ; but they talk of their picturs 
and picturs and picturs just as if they were saw 
many sheep ! " 

Dr. Alison I knew and greatly respected. Many 
a talk we had together on his favourite subject of 
a Poor Law for Scotland ; our opinions coinciding. 

Another friend was John Hill Burton, who after- 
wards became a prominent figure in Edinburgh 
society. The racy sayings of the learned historian 
and author of the "Book Hunter" will long be 
quoted. Between his family and mine a close 
friendship existed, and is now carried on by our 

An account of Edinburgh society, as I knew it 
from 1835 to 1847, would be incomplete without 
mention of a lady whom I met occasionally, who 
had acquired much local celebrity — Miss Stirling 
Graham, of Duntrune. Duntrune was her estate 
in Forfarshire, where she usually lived, but whence 
she came to Edinburgh for the winter seasons. 

This lady, though confining the exercise of her 
talents to private life, possessed the powers of a 
consummate actress; and her impersonation of 
various characters, especially of old Scotch women, 
afforded amusement to a large circle of friends, and 
may be said to " have kept the town in a pleasant 


kind of buzz." So popular, indeed, were these 
performances that in later life she was urged to 
publish an account of them. This she did, in a 
small volume entitled " Mystifications," which, 
though first issued for private circulation, soon 
afterwards appeared before the public, edited by 
Dr. John Brown. 

Unfortunately the work is now out of print, and 
therefore rarely to be met with. 

In his preface the editor gives the following 
extract from one of Sir Walter Scott's Journals : — 

^^ March 7, 1828. — ^Went to my Lord Gillies' to dinner 
and witnessed a singular exhibition of personification by 
Miss Stirling Graham. She went off as to the play, and 
returned in the character of an old Scotch lady. Her 
dress and behaviour were admirable and the conversation 
unique. I was in the secret, of course, and did my best 
to keep up the ball, but she cut me out of all feather. 
The prosing account she gave of her son the antiquaiy, 
who found an auld wig in a slate quarry, was extremely 
ludicrous, and she puzzled the Professor of Agriculture 
with a merciless account of the succession of crops in the 
parks around her old mansion house.'' 

On leaving the party, Sir Walter, bending 
down to the ear of the old lady, addressed her in 
these words : " Awa, awa, the deils ower grit 
wi you ! 

Miss Stirling Graham, in writing of her imper- 

1838.] A STRANGE VISITOR. 159 

sonations, remarks, *' The cleverest people were 
the easiest mystified. Indeed, children and dogs 
were the only detectives." 

The following is her own account of the 
most celebrated of her performances, somewhat 
abridged : — 

"Visit to Mr. Jeffrey. 

"At the theatre one Saturday evening, in the year 1821, 
Mr. Jeffrey requested me to let him see my ' old lady ; ' 
and, on condition that we should have some one to take 
in, I promised to introduce her to him very soon. 
Accordingly, on the Monday, having ascertained that Mr. 
Jeffrey was to dine at home, I set out from Lord Gillies's 
in a coach, accompanied by Miss Helen Carnegy, of 
Craigo, as my daughter, and we stopped at Mr. Jeffrey's 
door between five and six o'clock. It was a winter 
evening, and on the question, *Is Mr. Jeffrey at home?' 
being answered in the affirmative, the two ladies stepped 
out, and were ushered into the little parlour where he 
received his visitors. 

" There was a blazing fire and wax-lights on the table. 
Mr. Jeffrey had laid down his book and seemed to be 
in the act of joining the ladies in the drawing-room before 

" The ' Lady Pitlyal ' was announced, and he stepped 
forward a few paces to meet her. 

" She was a sedate-looking little woman, of an inquisitive, 
law-loving countenance, a mouth in which not a vestige 
of a tooth was to be seen, and a pair of old-fashioned 
spectacles on her nose . . . She was dressed in an Irish 
poplin of silver grey, a white cashmere shawl, a mob-cap 


with a band of thin muslin that fastened it below the chin, 
and a small black silk bonnet that shaded her eyes from 
any glare of light. 

"Her right hand was supported by an antique gold- 
headed cane, and she leant with the other on the arm 
of her daughter. Miss Ogilvy. Mr. Jeffrey bowed, and 
handed the old lady to a comfortable chaise longue on one 
side of the fire, and sat himself down opposite to her on 
the other. 

" * Well ! ' said Mr. Jeffrey, as he looked at the old lady 
in expectation that she would open the subject that pro- 
cured him the honour of the visit. 

" * Weel ! ' replied her ladyship, * I am come to tak' a 
word o' the law frae you.' 

" Here followed a long-winded account of a fire which 
had taken place in a ' kiln and malt-barn ' on her property 
at the 'town end of Kirriemuir.' These had not been 
insured, but she was determined to ' get damages ' from 
somebody. The case had been already tried in the 
' Shirra Court of Forfar,' but it had gone against her. 

•* The old lady continues — 

" ' The Minister of Blairgowrie is but a fule body, and 
advised me no to gae to law.' 

"*I think,' said Jeffrey, 'he gave you a very sensible 

"'It was anything but that; and mind, if you dinna 
gie't in my favour I'll no be sair pleased. ' 

" After more talk about her lawsuit. Lady Pitlyal drew 
from her pocket a large old-fashioned leather pocket-book 
with silver clasps, out of which she presented him a letter 
directed to himself. He did not look into it, but threw 
it carelessly on the table. She now offered him a pinch 
of snuff from a massive gold box, and then selected 


another folded paper from the pocket-book, which she 
presented to him, saying — 

" * Here is a prophecy that I would like you to look 
at and explain to me.' 

"He begged to be excused, saying, 'I believe your 
ladyship will find me more skilful in the law than the 
prophets^ . . . 

"'Maybe,' replied her ladyship; 'but I copied these 
lines out of a muckle book entitled the "Prophecie of 
Pitlyal " just before I came to you, in order to have your 
opinion on some of the obscure passages.' 

" Here, then, with a smile at the oddity of the request, 
and a mixture of impatience in his manner, he read the 
following lines : — 

* O'er the Light of the North,* 
When the Glamour breaks forth, 
And its wild-fire so red 
With the daylight is spread, 
When woman shrinks not from the ordeal of trial, 
There is triumph and fame to the House of PitlyaL' 

"The old lady remarks, 'What the "Light of the 
North" can mean, and "Glamour," I canna mak' out 
... I begin, however, to think that the prophecy may 
be fulfilled in the person of my daughter, for which 
reason I have brought her to Edinburgh to see and get 
a gude match for her. A' the world ca's her the Rosebud 
of Pitlyal." t 

• The "Light of the North" was Mr. Jeffrey; the "Glamour" 
was herself 

t In the year 1862 I called, in company with our friend Mrs. 
John Hill Burton, upon the " Rosebud of Pitlyal," then an old 
lady, in her pretty home of Lavrock Bank. — Ed. 



"A pause in the conversation now ensued, which was 
interrupted by her ladyship asking Mr. Jeffrey where she 
could procure * a set of fause teeth/ 

"* Of what?' said he, with an expression of astonish- 
ment, while the whole frame of the young lady shook 
with some internal emotion. 

" * A set of fause teeth,' she repeated, and was again 
echoed with the interrogation, ' W/tatf 

" A third time she asked the question, and in a more 
audible key, when he replied with a kind of suppressed 
laugh, 'There is Mr. Nasmyth, north corner of St. Andrew's 
Square, a very good dentist ; and there is Mr. Hutchins, 
corner of Hanover and George Street' 

" She now rose to take leave. The bell was rung, and 
when the servant entered his master desired him to see 
if Lady Pitlyal's carriage was at the door. 

** He returned to tell them there was no carriage wait- 
ing, upon which her ladyship remarked — 

" * This comes of forehand payments ; they make hint- 
hand wark. I gae a hackney coachman twa shillings to 
bring me here, and he's awa' without me.' 

'* There was not a coach within sight It was by this 
time past the hour of dinner, and there seemed to Mr. 
Jeffrey no hope of getting rid of his visitors. 

'* Her ladyship said she was in no hurry, as she had had 
tea, and was going to the play, and hoped he would 
accompany them. 

" He said he had not yet had his dinner. 

"They then talked of the merits of the actors, and 
she took occasion to tell him that she patronized the 
Edinburgh Review. 

" ' We read your buke, sir ! ' 

•* * I am certainly very much obliged to you.' 

1838.] A LAWYER ''TAKEN IN."" 163 

" Here the coach was announced, and, by the help of her 
daughter's arm and her gold-headed cane, she began to 
move, complaining loudly of a ' camy tae.* 

" The door was closed, and the order given to drive to 
Gibbs's Hotel, whence they hastened with all speed to 
Lord GilHes's, where the party waited dinner for them, 
and hailed the fulfilment of the * Prophecie of PitlyaL' 
Mr. Jeffrey, in the mean time, impatient for his dinner, 
joined the ladies in the drawing-room. 

"'What in the world has detained you?' said Mrs. 

"*One of the most tiresome and oddest old women I 
ever met with.' And, beginning to relate some of the 
conversation that had taken place, it flashed upon him 
that he had been taken in. He ran downstairs for the 
letter she had given him, hoping it would throw some 
light on the subject; but it was only a blank sheet of 
paper, containing a fee of three guineas. . . . 

" It was not until the day after that he found out from 
his friend Mrs. George Russell who the ladies really 
were. ... He returned the fee with the following letter: — 

''Tothe'LKDY PiTLYAL. 

"Dear Madam, 

"As I understand that the lawsuit about the 
malt-kiln is likely to be settled out of Court, I must be 
permitted to return the fee by which you were pleased to 
retain my services, and hope I shall not be quoted along 
with the hackney coachman in proof of the danger of 
forehand payments. I hope the dentists have not dis- 
graced my recommendation, and that Miss Ogiivy is 
likely to fulfil the prophecy and bring glory and fame 


to the house of Pitlyal ; though I am not a little mortified 
at having been allowed to see so little of that amiable 
young lady. 

"With best wishes for the speedy cure of your corns, 
I have the honour to be, dear Madam, 

" Your very faithful and obedient servant, 

" F. Jeffrey." 

( i65 ) 


Social intercourse during tours in Scotland — Lord Fife — Lord 
Panmure—The "House of Touch"— Mr. Leny— Lord 
Chancellor Campbell—Mr. Wallace — Duke of Richmond- 
Mr. Babbage and Sir John Herschel — The Countess 
Duchess of Sutherland— Prison Bill— Fox Maule — Lord 
Aberdeen — Sir Charles Napier and the Glasgow Bridewell. 

During my travels I kept a journal, which I sent 
home for the amusement of my family. This 
journal I have by me, and I will quote from it as 
occasion requires. The first entry is — 

^^ Banff , November 16, 1835. — I passed this afternoon 
with Lord Fife, who showed me his grounds, pictures, and 
library. Lord Fife, though once a boon-companion of 
George IV., appears to have many right views, and to 
be effecting much good. He gives to all classes, both rich 
and poor, free access to his grounds, and on Sundays to 
his picture-galleries also; even to the apartments which 
he himself is occupying. It will sometimes happen that 
while he is writing in his library half a dozen fishermen 
and their wives will be walking about the room examining 
the pictures. He is often much amused at their criticisms. 

i66 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. IX. 

"Lord Fife provides what I have long desired to see, 
namely, a kind of reserve of profitable labour as a check 
to pauperism. His property is so large that a great deal 
of work may always be carried on with advantage. At 
present, for instance, besides draining the land, opening 
new roads, etc., he is erecting a new pier at the neighbour- 
ing seaport of Macduff and enlarging the harbour. In 
these and other occupations he is employing as many as 
three hundred men and boys, which is a great relief to 
the district, the fishing season having ended, and farming 
employment being scarce owing to the approach of 

"^ Novembir 17. — Breakfasted with Mr. Pringle, Sheriff- 
Substitute of Banffshire. I find that one good symptom 
of the working of the Burgh Reform is that many of the 
magistrates are taking an active part in promoting educa- 
tion. Objectors to reform, however, are always to be 
found ; and I was told of an eccentric minister of the 
Kirk who was so indignant with the provisions of the 
new Act, that when the first magistrates under it were 
appointed he omitted to offer the usual prayer for them. 
This causing complaint and remonstrance, he, the follow- 
ing Sunday, prayed Heaven to 'have mercy on all 
lunatics, idiots, and the magistrates of this burgh ' I 

"I was surprised to learn from Mr. Pringle that the 
Burgh Reform Act did not abolish the old trading rights 
of burgesses, and that they still exist He says he is 
often called upon, much against his will, to order some 
poor stranger out of the town who is offering articles for 
sale which a burgess claims an exclusive right to vend. 

"At Banff I met Mr. Cameron, the Provost, and had 
much interesting talk with him. He told me he could 
distinctly remember going with his father's grieve into the 


Highlands to pay 'black-mail' to the chieftain of the 
district as a security against the ' lifting ' of his father s 
cattle. This 'black-mair was paid in kind, chiefly in 

''December 12.— Left Arbroath by stage-coach in the 
evening for Montrose. The road runs by the seaside, and 
we saw the light of the Bell Rock lighthouse. I learnt 
from the passengers that the contrivance of the floating 
bell is still used in foggy weather, and that its tolling may 
be heard at a great distance." 

How dramatically Southey has rendered this 
incident in his poem of the " Inchcape Bell " ! 

"At Montrose found a letter awaiting me from Lord 
Panmure, inviting me to take up my quarters at Brechin 
Castle. Accepted the invitation, and had a hospitable 

''December 17. — After dinner had a good deal of con- 
versation with Lord Panmure. Though much given to 
the pleasures of the table, he is a very shrewd man, and 
a decided Liberal in politics. He mentioned one division 
in the House of Commons in which Charles James Fox, 
Lord Grey, and himself had stood alone. 

"Speaking of his ancestors, he told me that one of 
them had taken part in the Rebellion of 1715. 'That 
Rebellion,' he said, * was conducted by gentlemen. They 
were very different from the riff'-raff' that were engaged 
in the '45.' His ancestors' gentlemanly proceeding led to 
the confiscation of the family estates. Some years later, 
however, they were recovered on easy terms ; for when the 
property came to be sold by auction, any bidding against 
the suffering family was discountenanced, as in other 

i68 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. IX. 

cases, by the honourable feeling which prevailed through- 
out the countr>^ 

"Lord Panmure had been a keen sportsman, and he 
talked with relish of his hunting days. I visited a 
Mechanics' Institute which he had built, and found to my 
amusement that he had adorned its walls with pictures of 
hunting and drinking scenes. 

"A nephew of Lord Panmure's, whom I met at Brechin 
Castle, mentioned an odd freak of his uncle's earlier life. 
A hunting party was collected at the Castle at a time 
when Lady Panmure was confined to her bed. Lord 
Panmure laid a wager that he would ride upstairs on 
the back of a favourite pony and leap over her ladyship's 
bed ! This he actually did." 

I learnt, subsequently, of the extraordinary con- 
duct of Lord Panmure towards his own family, 
including his son. Fox Maule. I was told, how- 
ever, that in spite of all this he was popular 
amongst his tenantry. 

" November i8, 1836. — Left Edinburgh for Queen's Ferry, 
going round by Dalmeny Park. The house and grounds 
are among the finest I have seen. I was politely received 
by Lord Rosebery, who said he would assist me in any 
way I might point out in carrying my prison measures 
into effect. 

"Left for Culross, a small burgh five miles west of 
Dunfermline. The chief magistrate being out of town, I 
sent to the next in authority, a baker, to let him know 
that I was examining the prison. He sent me word, how- 
ever, that he could not come, as he *was busy baking.' 
At this the gaoler's wife held up her hands, exclaiming. 

1836.] A TRIAL OF PIPERS. 169 

' Hech, sirs ! what na a message for a bailie to send to a 
gentleman ! ' 

" There appears to be very little crime at Culross, not- 
withstanding the baker-bailie's limited time for magisterial 

*' Glasgow, November 21. — Dined with Mr. John Kerr 
(a friend of my brother Matthew's). He inquired particu- 
larly after Rowland's post-office plan, of which he is an 
enthusiastic admirer." 

Mr. Kerr soon became a valued friend of my own. 

" Stirling, November 24. — Went in the evening to dine 
with the sheriff of the county, who bears the laconic name 
of Sir Reginald Macdonald Stuart Seton of Staffa, Bart. 
He is one of the most ceremoniously polite men I ever 
met with. On our entering the hall he took off his hat and 
welcomed me to his 'poor house of Touch' (pronounced 
with a full guttural 'Tough'). 

" Sir Reginald is a great upholder of Gaelic custopis ; 
of course, therefore, he has his pipers. It happened 
' fortunately,' he told me, that there was, in addition, an 
Irish piper that day in the hall. After dinner the Irish 
piper was requested to play for us. When his stock of 
wind was exhausted Sir Reginald's own piper began, and 
the latter certainly made a tremendous noise. His master 
was much delighted, and by dint of bawling in my ear at 
last made me understand the question ' whether I did not 
think the notes very distinct ? ' Truly a want of distinct- 
ness was the last fault I should have thought of finding. 

" After the music had ended, and the drums of our ears 
had had a little rest, we were invited to go to one of the 
lower rooms to see the servants dance the Strathspey, 
which they did with much spirit The next dance was 


a very pleasing one to witness, for master, guests, and 
servants all joined in it. I should have joined also had 
I understood the intricacies of a Scotch reel." 

I witnessed a similar mingling of classes on the 
occasion of a curling-match which took place near 
Dumfries, in the grounds of a Mr. Leny (the 
convener of the county), who had kindly invited 
me to pass a few days with him. The captain of 
the side on which Mr. Leny played was one of his 
own livery servants. 

At Mr. Leny's house I became acquainted with 
Sir Thomas Kirkpatrick, the sheriff-depute of the 
county. He was the last layman appointed to that 
office, all who followed him being lawyers. I found 
he had read my report on the prisons of Scotland, 
andtfuUy entered into my views. 

At this same time I paid my first visit to the 
town of Dumfries, and was kindly entertained at 
dinner by one of the worthy inhabitants. There 
was a large party to meet me. We sat down to 
dinner at four o'clock, where we remained for six 
mortal hours without any one attempting to move. 
At last, quite wearied out, I left the table. On 
reaching the drawing-room I was politely received 
by the lady of the house, but she expressed her 
surprise at seeing me so early / 

I remember that I visited Sir Andrew Agnew at 


Lochnaw Castle at Stranraer. He told me of a 
curious old Scottish Act of Parliament by which the 
killing of plovers was made punishable, " because/* 
as the Act set forth, "they fly over the Border, 
and feed on the lands of our natural enemies the 

In connection with the little port of Stranraer I 
may mention a story I heard at a later date of 
Lord Campbell (afterwards Lord Chancellor). He 
happened to be staying there at the time of the 
regatta, and was paid the compliment of being 
created its "admiral." At the dinner which con- 
cluded the festivities, Lord Campbell, having no 
hesitation in the use of " blarney," and a complete 
command of his countenance, made this astounding 
declaration : " Gentlemen, in the course of my life 
I have been so happy as to receive many honours 
from my queen and country, but I assure you that 
no honour was ever conferred upon me of which 
I feel greater pride than the honour of being 
created admiral of the Stranraer Regatta ! " 

To return to my diary. 

" Shortly after my arrival at Greenock, the son of Mr. 
Wallace, the Provost and member for Greenock, came to 
my inn to take me to his father's house. Mr. Wallace is a 
descendant of the renowned Sir William Wallace. His 
house and grounds are beautifully situated on the southern 

172 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. IX. 

bank of the Clyde. After dinner I accompanied Mr. 
Wallace to a meeting of his constituents, and was much 
pleased with his manly, straightforward account of his 
proceedings in Parliament during the previous session. 
He concluded his address (according to a rule he had laid 
down when he was elected) by tendering his resignation 
in the most unreserved manner if his constituents were 
dissatisfied with the manner in which he had performed 
his duties. Far from accepting his resignation, the meet- 
ing passed an enthusiastic vote of confidence. 

" On our way home Mr. Wallace gave me some particu- 
lars respecting his struggle in the House of Commons 
with the Post Office in urging postal improvements, and the 
good effects that had followed his persevering exertions." 

I should mention here that when my brother 
Rowland brought forward his great measure for a 
uniform low postage, Mr. Wallace, instead of looking 
upon it with a jealous eye, gave it his hearty 

'^December 24. — Left Paisley for Ayr. Put up at the 
King's Arms. Visited the prison, and found it in the good 
state I had expected. Nothing can be more complete 
than the change since this time last year. Dirt, noise, 
and idleness have been succeeded by cleanliness, silence) 
and industry. 

^^ December 25. — Captain Hamilton called on me, and I 
accompanied him to church. He is very zealous in pro- 
moting the improvement of the prison. When I was here 
a year ago and proposed my remedial measures, he said 
that if there was any difficulty in raising the necessary 
funds, he would himself pay every shilling out of his own 
pocket rather than see my plans abandoned. 


''December 26. — A verdict of culpable homicide was 
given to-day by, I believe, a very respectable jury in a 
clearly established case of barbarous murder ; the reason 
being evidently their aversion to capital punishment. The 
judge, foreseeing the possibility of such a verdict, had 
x:harged strongly against it, but the jury was resolute. 
The verdict has made a considerable sensation. 

"Fort George, September 23, 1837. — This is a strong 
fortification, standing on a peninsula which juts out into 
the Moray Firth, It was erected after the Rebellion of 
1745, to overawe the Highlands. It is very large, and is 
capable of holding two thousand soldiers, besides officers 
and attendants. 

" My object in visiting the fortress was to see whether 
part of it could be converted into a prison for the north 
of Scotland. I am glad to find that it can easily be 
applied to this purpose. 

''Inverness, — Was glad to find on my arrival here that 
the circuit was not over. Dined with the judges ; sat by 
Lord Mackenzie, with whom I had a good deal of con- 
versation. He mentioned a striking instance of the 
confidence which can be placed in the just result of a 
trial in Scotland. Two men had been charged with 
murder, but the precognition, or preliminary investigation, 
made by the sheriff and procurator fiscal, showed that 
the charge was groundless. Still the public continued to 
entertain strong suspicions, so that the men were shunned 
on all sides. Under these circumstances, they came for- 
ward and insisted on being brought to the bar and tried 
for the murder. This was done ; they were fully acquitted, 
and all feeling against them disappeared." 

When visiting the Shetland Islands during the 

174 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. IX. 

first year of my appointment, I found that the 
steamboat which conveyed me was performing her 
second trip only. The summits of the cliffs were 
covered with spectators to witness our arrival. 
I was told that on its first trip some boatmen, 
thinking that the vessel was approaching too near 
the coast, put off to warn the sailors of their 
danger ; but when the ship was seen to be making 
her way right against the wind, they took fright, 
supposing her to be bewitched, and hurried back. 

When out walking one day I saw a miserable- 
looking man, who, I was informed, was Hare, the 
associate of Burke, who had carried on the horrible 
practice of murder in order to get money by selling 
the bodies of his victims for the purposes of dissec- 
tion. Hare had escaped by turning king's evidence. 

In Lerwick one day I saw a little Shetland pony 
entering a dwelling-house without ceremony, and was 
told that it lived there. It always scrambled upstairs, 
and occupied one of the bedrooms as its stable. 

I found that the islanders, at that time, had 
little intercourse with the rest of the world. The 
parental tie was so strong that parents were loth 
to part with their sons even for the whale-fishing. 
But five or six years later, when the establishment 
of penny postage had brought facility of communi- 
cation, the enterprise of the younger generation 

1838.] GORDON CASTLE. 175 

was not so checked. The number of letters 
increased at once in England about four or five- 
fold, but in Shetland it increased thirteen-fold. 

The two innovations of steam navigation and 
cheap postage brought about, indeed, a great 
change for the Shetlanders. A gentleman whom 
I knew told me he had once been without news of 
his family for three months, ^he being on the main- 
land, and the winds contrary. 

In one of my tours I was kindly invited by the 
Duke of Richmond to pay him a visit at Gordon 
Castle. The duke, as I have previously mentioned, 
had taken an active part in the passing of the Act 
under which inspectors of prisons were appointed. 
I was kindly welcomed, and have a very pleasant 
recollection of my visit. 

My host (fifth Duke of Richmond) had been a 
favourite officer of the Duke of Wellington, and 
had served under him in the Peninsular War and 
at Waterloo. A permanent souvenir of his military 
life remained in his body in the shape of a bullet 
which had never been extracted. 

During my stay at the Castle a dance was given 
to the tenants, in which I was invited to take part. 
To this, however, I objected, on the ground that 
I had never learnt to dance Scotch reels. But my 
objection was overruled by one of the ladies of the 

176 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. IX. 

family — Lady Caroline Lennox — who immediately 
offered to teach me. This she accordingly did, and 
I hope that at the dance I did not altogether dis- 
credit my kind instructress. 

In the summer of 1838 a remarkably fine Aurora 
Borealis was visible in Scotland. I witnessed this 
phenomenon when staying at Inverary, where I 
happened to fall in with Mr. Babbage, with whom 
I was previously acquainted. We passed much of 
the night together in the open air, enjoying the 
beauty of the spectacle. 

In the course of conversation, Mr. Babbage told 
me that he was intimate with Sir John HerscheL 
The two friends were planning a tour in Switzer- 
land, when the question arose as to their possessing 
the necessary steadiness of head for mountaineer- 
ing. To settle this important point, they tried the 
experiment of climbing the scaffold poles of Sir 
William Herschel's great telescope. When they 
had reached a height of forty feet, Sir John called 
out, " Babbage, do you feel at all giddy ? " " Not 
at all,'* was the reply; whereupon they resumed 
their climbing, and without any tremor reached the 
top, whence they shouted mutual congratulations. 

When inspecting some of the prisons in the 
north of Scotland, I paid a visit, by invitation, to 
the Countess Duchess of Sutherland at Dunrobin 

1838.] AN ABLE RULER, 177 

Castle. I was much impressed by the combination 
of power and benevolence which her very appear- 
ance bespoke, and which all I saw of the manage- 
ment of her great estate confirmed. The countess 
evidently possessed that first requisite of a ruler, 
the ability to select good subordinates ; but not 
content with the exercise of this power, she gave 
all her tenants the opportunity of personal inter- 
course with herself. Once every week she held 
a court, or levSe, to which all might come (rich and 
poor) to tender a complaint, offer a petition, or 
solicit her advice. 

The chief employments of her tenants were in 
the fisheries and on the sheep-farms, but ultimately 
coal-mining was added to these ; for the countess 
engaged the services of a geologist to make a 
careful examination of the ground, which ended 
in the discovery of valuable beds of coal. 

In riding late one evening outside the mail- 
coach to Perth, I was placed in the greatest 
personal danger that I ever encountered. The road 
passes through a glen by a long steep descent. 
It is bounded on one side by a wall of lofty rock, 
on the other by a precipice, at the foot of which 
runs a river, and finally takes a sharp turn to cross 
the bridge below. 

When we began the descent darkness was fast 


178 FREDERIC HILL, [Chap. IX. 

approaching, but the horses, instead of slackening 
their pace, increased it every moment. As we 
dashed along, the coach rocking from side to side, 
I remonstrated with the driver ; but I soon became 
aware that he had lost all power to stop the horses. 
The pole-chain had broken. I expected that in 
a few minutes we should all be hurled down the 
precipice into the riven In this emergency we 
owed our lives to the gallant conduct of the 
guard. He scrambled across the coach, and 
throwing himself with violence on to the back 
of the off-wheeler, forced the horse down upon 
the ground, and thus made a scotcher of its 
body. The coach reeled and stopped, and we 
were saved. 

Another incident of my stage-coach journeys is 
of a very different kind. I was travelling in a lonely 
part of Scotland where there was no habitation 
within sight, when the guard blew his horn loudly, 
and, to my surprise, we stopped. Presently I saw 
a large collie dog come bounding down a hill, 
making straight for us. When he reached the 
coach the guard dropped a letter-bag on the ground 
before him. The dog took up the bag, holding 
the strap in his mouth, and immediately ran off* 
with it up the hill and disappeared. There ;was a 
farmhouse in the neighbourhood, about a quarter 

1838.] TAY FISHERMEN, 179 

of a mile off, and this dog, I was told, always thus 
fetched the letters for the family. 

I remember standing one Sunday night upon 
the bridge over the Tay near Perth, and witnessing 
a curiously literal observance of the sabbath. 
Several fishing-boats were below me, the men's 
oars standing out horizontally and quite motion- 
less. Thus they continued till a clock in the city 
began to strike the hour of midnight, with the first 
sound of which down went the oars into the water 
and the boatmen pulled vigorously away. 

In the beginning of the year 1838 I received 
the following letter from my father : — 

"Tottenham Tenrace, Middlesex, January 10, 1838. 
"My dear Frederic, 

"... Matthew, as perhaps you know, is 
printing a pamphlet on the parliamentary power of 
publishing libellous matter without responsibility of the 
parties concerned. A tremendous prerogative! but pos- 
sibly a needful one, as Matthew hopes to prove. Rowland 
is busy at letters to the Earl of Lichfield in correction 
of the statements which that nobleman made in the House 
of Lords. You, I presume, are as active in drawing up 
your annual report. So that 1838 will see the family 
speaking from the press with a triple mouth. . • , 

" God bless you, my dear boy 1 We shall be so happy 
to see you here. 

"I remain, 

" Your affectionate father, 

"Thos. W. Hill." 

i8o FREDERIC HILL. [Ohap. IX. 

In this year it was decided to introduce into 
Parliament a Bill for the future regulation of the 
prisons of Scotland, and I was requested by the 
Under Secretary of State (the Honourable Fox 
Maule) to prepare the heads of this Bill. 

I had from time to time much intercourse with 
Mr. Maule, and always received from him kind 
and efficient support. 

The Bill was founded on the remedial measures 
which I had recommended in my prison reports. 
One of its clauses provided for the appointment 
of a body of directors of prisons with authority 
(subject to the Secretary of State) to regulate all 
matters relating to Scottish prisons. 

At Mr. Fox Maule's request I called upon every 
Scotch member of Parliament in either House to 
explain the objects of the Bill, and the chief pro- 
visions for carrying it into effect. 

Mr. Maule writes to me — 

*' House of Commons, August ii, 1839. 

"Dear Hill, 

" By this time you will have struck the wedges 
away, and the good ship * The Prison Bill ' will have left 
her cradle to sink or swim in public opinion. 

" You may delay your estimate of the House of Refuge. 
It can easily be got by-and-by, and I have counsel to take 
before we can move in the matter. 

1839.] A BILL IN COMMITTEE. i8i 

" I have secured that the premises shall be retained at 
command of Government 

" Let me hear of your first meeting. 

*' Yours sincerely, 

"F. Maule." 

Mr. Fox Maule introduced the measure into the 
House of Commons, and in the usual course the 
Bill went into committee. There it received some 
maltreatment. Member after member rose to 
propose some clause inconsistent with the general 
scope of the measure, and which showed great 
ignorance of the subject. At last the Bill reached 
the House of Lords, and there the treatment was 
more gentle. One of the peers, however, objected 
to the inspector of prisons becoming a member 
of the Board of Directors, and proposed a clause 
forbidding such an appointment ; but Lord Aber- 
deen rose and declared " that for his part he 
thought the inspector, who had rendered such 
service to Scotland, would be the most valuable 
member of the Board," and this declaration at once 
silenced all opposition to my appointment 

The Bill was passed, and the Board of Directors 
soon entered on their duties. Lord Melville was 
chosen chairman, and Mr. Andrew Murray (Advocate) 

At the request of the Board I addressed a letter 

i82 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. IX. 

to the chairman on the requisite qualifications of 
governors and other officers of prisons. In this 
letter I spoke of the great difficulties I had had 
to contend with in obtaining the dismissal of bad 
officers, and urged the Board, on commencing its 
new avocations, to act with firmness in this matter. 

Of such supreme importance, indeed, have I ever 
regarded the appointment of good officers, that I 
should expect better results in one of the worst-built 
prisons, where no system of discipline was pre- 
scribed, but where there was an earnest and able 
governor, than in the best-constructed building, and 
under the most carefully devised plan of manage- 
' ment, where there was an incompetent head. 

One very important point, in my opinion, is to 
leave the selection of the subordinate officers in 
the hands of the governor, thus securing his full 
responsibility, and preventing all doubt as to who 
may be in fault in case of mismanagement. 

These and other recommendations were embodied 
in my letter, which was approved by the General 
Board, and distributed among the County Boards. 

Before this period I had already succeeded in 
establishing useful labour in many of the prisons 
of Scotland. 

An aphorism of Howard's was, " Make men 
diligent and they will be honest ; " and I have ever 

1839.] PRISON LABOUR. 183 

considered that the basis of all good systems of 
prison discipline must be work — steady, active, 
honourable work — to the exclusion of all artificial 
and unproductive labour. It was, therefore, with 
much satisfaction that soon after entering on my 
official work I saw the last treadmill banished from 

Work awarded as a mere punishment, and not 
intended to yield any profit, has a degrading and 
demoralizing effect. A prisoner may be compelled 
to do a hard day's work on the treadmill every 
day throughout his term of imprisonment, and yet 
be restored to liberty with a fixed determination 
never to do another day*s work as long as he lives. 
He is let loose on society smarting from the pain of 
disgraceful punishments, and with a gloomy resolu- 
tion to revenge himself. 

Unless a prisoner acquire habits of industry and 
a liking for some kind of work, little hope can be 
entertained of his conduct after liberation ; sooner 
or later he is almost sure to fall back into crime. 
But in order to make men, who have been accus- 
tomed to an idle, dissolute life, attain to habits 
of industry and perseverance, they must be supplied 
with some motive for the change, and inspired with 
hope for the future. To meet this need I instituted 
the following system. 

i84 FREDERIC HILL. . [Chap. IX. 

All able-bodied prisoners were required to per- 
form an allotted task equivalent to ten hours' 
labour (the ordinary working day of an honest 
workman), but all work done beyond this task 
was paid for at the market rate of wages. The 
money thus earned was placed to the prisoner s 
credit, to be expended by him, subject to the 
control of the governor, either during his con- 
finement in relief to his family, or after his 

Untried prisoners were not compelled to work; 
but as they were given their full day's, wages if 
they chose to do so, they were almost always glad 
to work. 

Without waiting for the building of new prisons, 
I was often able to suggest alterations which could 
be made at a small cost, and which would admit of 
arrangements for employing the prisoners in useful 
work. As far as practicable, such prisoners as had 
learnt a trade were employed at it. This a zealous 
and intelligent governor would be able to accom- 
plish, even in the face of many difficulties. For 
instance, in order to give employment to a black- 
smith, I have seen a vacant cell fitted up as a 

Writing on this subject recalls to my mind a 
visit which Sir Charles Napier paid to the Glasgow 


Bridewell. It so chanced that I myself was there 
when he was announced. I offered to accompany 
him, and we proceeded on our tour of inspection. 

When Sir Charles saw the various kinds of work 
in which the prisoners were engaged, and the 
industry with which they laboured, he exclaimed, 
" Why, this is a factory, not a prison ! " 

" It is both," I replied ; and I explained to him 
the system I had inaugurated of payment to the 
prisoners for work done beyond their allotted daily 
task — hence their energy and industry. 

" Pay prisoners money ! " exclaimed Sir Charles ; 
'' I never heard of such a thing ! " and he seemed 
to think they had a very good time of it. But as 
we proceeded, and the realities of prison-life forced 
themselves upon him, his face lengthened, and 
before we parted, his sympathy and compassion 
being fully aroused, he turned to me and said, 
" How much do you say you pay the prisoners } " 

'' The value of their extra work." 

Sir Charles burst out with a growl, " I call that 
very shabby. The poor devils ought to have 
every penny they earn ! " 

The following letters refer to my work at this 
time : — 

186 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. TX. 

From James Stuart Menteth {Advocate). 

''Closebum Hall, Dumfries, January ii, 1840. 

" My dear Sir, 

" Allow me to take the liberty of forwarding to 
you a copy of the Dumfries and Galloway Courier of the 
8th inst. In it you will find an able article 'On the 
Improved Prison Discipline * of the gaol in Dumfries. 

" It describes very faithfully the present state compared 
with the wretched former one, which through your per- 
severing exertions has been put an end to. The present 
gaoler, Mr. McFarlane, receives all the commendation he 
well deserves. Not long ago I was over the Dumfries 
prison with my father. Sir Charles, and we were both 
highly gratified with the conduct of McFarlane and the 
discipline he had established, in exchanging idleness in 
the prison for work. . . . 

" We regretted your engagements prevented your taking 
Closeburn in your way to England. 

" I remain, my dear Sir, 
" Yours sincerely, 

"JAS. Stuart Menteth." 

From Lord Ivory. 

"Glencone, May 13, 1840, 

"My dear Sir, 

"... I shall always be most happy to do 
whatever in me lies to advance the successful promotion 
of the business of the Board ; and in a more especial 
manner to cultivate, better than I have hitherto had time 
to do, my own friendly relations with yourself, whose 

t84o.] the new system. 187 

zeal and enthusiasm in the cause of prison improvement 
I look upon, as I have always done, as one of the most 
promising elements of the eventual success of the new 
system the country possesses. . . . 

" Ever most faithfully yours, 

"J. Ivory." 

i88 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. X. 


1 839-1 840. 

The Cowper family — James Nasmyth — Penny Postage — Marriage 
— Return to Scotland — Mrs. HilPs journals — Maria Edge- 
worth and Father Mathew — ^Abbotsford 

It was in the year 1839 that I first became acquainted 
with Miss Martha Cowper, my future wife. Her 
eldest brother Edward Cowper's name was well 
known in the scientific world as the improver, or 
practically the inventor, of the printing-machine; 
for " he may be said to have done for the printing- 
machine what Watt did for the steam-engine." * 

Mr. Cowper was a man of a most generous dis- 
position, who was ever ready to use his great abilities 
in the service of others. To him, therefore, the 
knowledge that his printing-machine had largely 
assisted in conferring on mankind the benefit of 
cheap literature was a source of permanent happi- 

• See article on Edward Cowper in Leslie Stephen's "Dic- 
tionary of National Biography.'' 


ness. His friend James Nasmyth, the inventor of 
the steam-hammer, thus writes — 

" One of the first booksellers who availed himself of the 
benefits of the machine was Mr. Charles Knight, who pro- 
jected the Penny Magazine of 1832, and sold it to the 
extent of two hundred thousand copies weekly. It was 
also adopted by the Messrs. Chambers of Edinburgh, and 
the proprietors of the Magazin Pittoresque of Paris. The 
Universities of Oxford and Cambridge also used Cowper's 
machine in printing vast numbers of Bibles and Prayer- 
books, thereby reducing their price to one-third of the 
former cost. There was scarcely a newspaper of any 
importance in the country that was not printed with a 
Cowper's machine." 

Mr. Cowper became professor of mechanics and 
manufacturing arts at King's College. 

"On many occasions he gave Friday evening lectures 
at the Royal Institution. Like Faraday, Edward Cowper 
possessed the power of clearly unveiling his subject, and 
stripping it of all its complicated perplexities. His illus- 
trations were simple, clear, and understandable. Technical 
words were avoided as much as possible. Intelligent boys 
and girls could understand him. His choice of subjects, as 
well as his masterly treatment, always rendered his lectures 
instructive and attractive. Next to Faraday no one filled 
the theatre of the institution with such eager and crowded 
audiences as he did. 

" He was one of the most kind-hearted of men ; and the 
cheerful way in which he laid aside his ordinary business 

190 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. X. 

to give instruction and pleasure to others endeared him to 
a very wide circle of devoted friends." * 

From early youth Miss Martha Cowper had taken 
an earnest interest in the cause of education. Among 
other efforts she prepared illustrations for a series of 
popular lectures delivered throughout the country 
by a Mr. Wilderspin in 1826. There were then no 
cheap prints or charts illustrating natural history 
and other subjects such as now adorn the walls of 
our humblest schools, and Miss Cowper's diagram- 
drawings were probably the first of their kind. 

A few years later Miss Martha Cowper engaged 
in a literary work for children which became very 
popular — the Parents^ Cabinet of Amusement and 
Instruction. It contained tales, easy articles on 
natural history and on mechanical science, travels, 
and short biographies. The idea of such a publica- 
tion having been originated by Miss Cowper, her 
friends rallied round her, promising assistance, 
notably Mr. William Ellis (the ardent promoter 
of education), who acted as editor, and his wife. 
Professor Cowper wrote all the articles on mechani- 
cal science, and Miss Martha Cowper herself, be- 
sides writing some of the most popular tales, wrote 
all the articles on natural history, for which her 

• See James Nasmytb's " Autobiography.'^ 


1839.] THE ''PARENTS* CABINET.'' 191 

knowledge of the subject, and a constant observa- 
tion of nature, well fitted her. 

Maria Edgeworth, in letters to Miss Cowper, 
expressed the warmest admiration for the Parents' 
Cabinet, This was the beginning of an interesting 
correspondence between the ladies. The work 
passed through many editions. The most recent, 
under the somewhat altered title of Happy Hours ; 
or, The Parent^ Cabinet, appeared in 1891, edited 
by my daughter Constance.* 

Before we met I had read Miss Cowper s little 
tales, and she had read my ** Prison Reports." 
Though widely different performances, these writings 
had interested us in each other s turn of mind. 

Miss Cowper was a special friend of my sister-in- 
law, Mrs. Arthur Hill. They resembled each other 
in talent, enthusiasm, and goodness. Miss Cowper 
assisted in tending her friend through a long and 
fatal illness. My valued sister-in-law died in Octo- 
ber, 1839, but not before the knowledge of our 
approaching union had given her heartfelt pleasure. 

To turn to public events, my brother Rowland's 
scheme for postal reform was at this time before 

* It is a curious fact that while Miss Edgeworth sympathized 
with my mother in the first production of the Parents' Cabinet, 
her half-sister, Mrs. Butler, should have shown, in correspondence 
with myself, a warm inter^t in an edition brought out more than 
fifty j^UA later.— Ed. 

192 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. X. 

Parliament Owing to my absence in Scotland, I 
had been able to give him but little assistance in 
the promotion of his great work. I remember, 
however, that I drew up the first petition to 
Parliament on its behalf, signed by the merchants 
of London, I was in town, and able to be present 
at the second reading of the Postage Bill, about 
which I find this short note to my father : — 

''House of Commons, Monday night (July 23), 1839. 

"My dear Father, 

" The second reading of the Postage Bill has 
been carried without a division, and from the character of 
the debate and other circumstances the measure is as 
certain of passing into a law as a matter of the kind can 
be certain. 

" The Duke of Wellington supported the Bill, and par- 
ticularly recommended that Rowland's plan should be 
adopted throughout Brougham supported with zeal, and 
with talent of course, and, what was not of course, without 
cavils or crotchets. 

" Yours affectionately, 

"F. Hill." 

The year 1840 dawned with the birth of Penny 
Postage — " the child of Hill affection," as it has been 
well called. As a full history of it is given in the 
" Life ** of my brother Rowland, by my nephew, Dr. 
Birkbeck Hill, I shall not enter into so large a subject 

i84o.] MARRIAGE. 193 

in these " Recollections," except so far as it affected 
family relations. 

In the month of April of this year my marriage 
with Miss Martha Cowper took place, and thus 
began a career of nearly fifty years of uninterrupted 
connubial happiness with a lady of congenial feelings 
and views, who essentially aided me in the perform- 
ance of my public duties, doing with heart and mind 
that which only a woman could do. 

After my marriage I ceased to keep a regular 
diary ; but my wife, who possessed the pen of a 
ready writer, wrote a journal during the early years 
of our married life for the benefit of her own and 
my relations in England. 

In her journals and letters her wifely partiality 
cannot but appear. I must therefore submit to 
insert some praise of myself, or must suppress her 
writings altogether. 

She writes — 

"Edinburgh, May 9, 1840. 

" Here I am in this beautiful city, with the old castle 
and the fine gardens and the high picturesque houses 
stretched out before me. We arrived at this hotel 
(Mackay's, Prince's Street) about three this morning. I 
was tired and weary, but a chorus of birds at that early 
hour welcomed me. The novelty of such a burst of song 
in the midst of a city was delightful. . . . The streets are 
beautiful, and it is altogether a glorious city ; but I do not 


19* FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. X. 

know what our Regent Street linen-drapers would say to 
the odd positions of the shops. Even in the principal 
streets there are two tiers of shops, so that you have a 
grocer's under a goldsmith's, a chandler's under a shawl 
warehouse, and a fashionable shoemaker's under a butcher's, 
with its agreeable accompaniments hanging over your head 
as you enter the shop." 

We secured some comfortable rooms at No. lo, 
Castle Street, where my Edinburgh friends soon 
came to call on my wife. She writes to my 
father — 

" I think you have heard of Mrs. Fletcher. She is 
a most interesting woman, full of energy, vivacity, and 
talent, and her manners are particularly courteous and 
refined. She is above seventy, but is more youthful 
and graceful than many a young person.* She has taken 
a deep interest in the Poor Law question, added to all 
the other benevolent objects which occupy so much of her 
time and attention. She spoke earnestly and warmly of 
Frederic, and this, you know, was very pleasant music to 

* The widow of Sir Charles Bell described, many years ago, to a 
friend of ours, her first sight of Mrs. Fletcher, when the latter 
was a young married woman. It was on the occasion of an 
illumination in Edinburgh. Lady Bell was seated in a window, 
and, happening to tum her head, she saw Mrs. Fletcher enter the 
room with the light of the illuminations striking full upon the 
turned-back brim of her yellow hat, which gave it the effect of 
an aureole. " The face," she said, " was like the face of an 
angel." Lady Bell's last sight of Mrs. Fletcher was in the garden 
of Mrs. Arnold's home of Fox Howe. Her face, still beautiful 
in old age, was illumined by the setting sun. — Ed. 


me. We are to spend next Saturday evening with this 
accomplished and discerning lady. 

" I had nearly forgotten to tell you that Mrs. Fletcher 
had just seen a very long letter from Miss Edgeworth to 
Dn Alison, giving an animated description of the temper- 
ance movement in Ireland. Miss Edgeworth says the good 
that Father Mathew is effecting is incalculable ; that he is 
performing wonders, not miracles ; that he rigidly refuses 
all worship of his adherents, and that she considers him 
the greatest man of his age." 

'^ 23, Great King Street, August lo. 
" I hope you received the * Prison Report * quite safely. 
The General Board distribute the greater number, but I 
had the pleasure of sending off nearly fifty. How I 
wish that Frederic could have put into the report all his 
thoughts and feelings upon capital punishment, Scottish 
Poor Law, etc. ! But we must content ourselves that such 
self-denial is wise, and that he will be able to introduce 
more and more valuable matter each year." 

In September my wife accompanied me in one of 
my tours of inspection. She writes — 

''September 10. — Went this morning with Frederic to 
the wretched old jail in Elgin, which, however^ under his 
directions, has at last been made clean. A fire was in the 
room where two girls were confined, but no fire could warm 
such a room in winter. The staircase was outside the old 
tower. The two girls were but seventeen years old, and 
would probably be transported for the thefts they had 
committed. One was a stout, good-tempered looking 
young woman, decently brought up, but led into evil by 
bad companions. The other, a thin, spare-looking girl. 

196 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. X. 

was a tight-rope dancer belonging to a travelling caravan. 
Her brother and sister had both been transported. She 
had never been at school, could not read, write, or sew, 
scour a floor, reap, or do anything, indeed, but dance. She 
came into the prison in a state of great destitution four 
months ago, and is still untried. She looks as if the light 
of a loving countenance had never fallen upon her. She 
shrank, and tried to hide herself when we approached her. 
Oh, the folly of bringing the whole force and machinery of 
the law to bear upon a poor creature like this, when simple 
instruction in useful habits and change of the circumstances 
that had produced the crime would do so much more good ! 
A few cases of this kind, well made out, would do much to 
awaken people's minds to the necessity of a house of refuge, 
where character could be gained as well as good habits 

^^ Banff, — Miss Cameron (daughter of Provost Cameron) 
is a good woman, but the lady's broad Scotch and loud 
voice are somewhat alarming to encounter. She took me 
to see several schools this morning. The infant school is 
managed by a most amiable man, named, you would say, 
for his occupation — Mr. Bairnsfather. My companion was 
astonished at the learning of the children, ever and anon 
exclaiming, in a tone of voice which I cannot describe, but 
which sounded like extreme dissatisfaction, * Well, to think 
of the like of that ! There is no bounds to the knowledge 
of children nowadays.' Then, in the same loud scolding 
tone of voice, she exclaimed to the lady who accompanied 
us, * Well, it's just the most fortunate and extraordinary 
circumstance that Mr. Hill should have met with Mrs, Hill. 
It's what I call just providential ! ' 

" The prison here was in a wretched state before Frederic 
was inspector. The prisoners would have starved but for 


the help of two ladies. One fine young man was in for 
two years for no crime of his own, but because his sweet- 
heart had smuggled some whisky, and he took the blame 
on himself, though innocent. He literally died for want of 
proper nourishment, want of air, and the effects of the cold 
winter without firing. A lady, by hard exertion, got the 
poor fellow released a few weeks before his death ; but 
nothing could save him, and he died moaning that he 
never more could see his native hills or the young girl for 
whom he had perished. This smuggling case was the more 
distressing as rich men are living close by whose whole 
property was made by smuggling. 

" Strathpeffer^ Sunday morning, September 20. — Our 
windows look out over rocks and sloping uplands culti- 
vated to the edge of the fir-woods, and dotted with 
numerous cottages thatched with straw, broom, or heather. 
I took a delightful though lonely ramble up the rocks, and 
had a fine view of Tor Echelter, the woods of Sir George 
Mackenzie, and a small lake or tarn. I picked specimens 
of the grass of pampas, the cotton grass, and the yellow 
asphodel. All the cottagers were in church at the Gaelic 
service ; the shepherds' dogs alone keeping watch, and 
they were so still that I could hear no sound but the wild 
bee humming over the heather. 

" In returning from one of my visits to Mrs. Cameron, 
of Dingwell, which were always pleasant, her coachman 
remarked on the beauty of the stars, which on that night 
were most brilliant. I spoke to him of the shepherd-boy 
who had spent hours in watching the stars and gaining 
knowledge about them, and gave him an account of 
Ferguson's life. I was much pleased with the man's 
intelligent remark. 'Ah, Mistress Hill, you see it was 
by minding things and never letting anything pass that 

198 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. X. 

he came to be so clever I ' It was curious that his remark 
should be so much like that of the poor black woman that 
Miss Martineau quotes, who, when Mr. Sedgwick asked 
her how she could have learnt so much of the laws of 
some of the States respecting slavery, answered, *By 
keeping still, sir, and minding things.' If we could but 
educate the young *to mind things,' and 'not to let any- 
thing pass,' we should not have complaints of the stupidity 
of the poor ; but we have never thought of training their 
powers of observation. 

^^ Inverness, October 15. — There is so much convenience 
and comfort at Inverness that one can scarcely imagine 
the time to be so very recent when the town was without 
light, without pavement, and without any means of 
cleanliness. A gentleman of middle age told Frederic 
that the streets used to be ankle-deep in mud during the 
summer and knee-deep in winter. He remembered 
the time when every well-to-do family kept a boy whose 
express duty it was to go before them and clear a pathway. 

" I went but once to the jail, as it is full of workmen 
altering the place under Frederic's directions. He has 
persuaded the people here to spend a hundred pounds on 
the old jail before the new one can be ready. It was 
most necessary. 

" In the course of a week the women will be in a larger 
room, new windows will be made, means of ventilation 
created, and gas and water laid on to the highest story ; 
the prisoners will be decently clothed, and separate 
hammocks (removable by day) provided for them instead 
of the dirty bedding now occupying the floor. They will 
be employed in regular work, and books and instruction 
will be supplied. 

" Frederic is most careful to prevent communication from 


without A new window in one of the cells had been 
made near the floor, thus affording a sight of the street 
below, but he had it built up again and placed nearer the 
ceiling. Frederic will not, however, allow a view of nature 
to be shut out unnecessarily. I heard him giving direc- 
tions that no blinds should be put up to this same window, 
in order that the view of the distant Firth, the green hills, 
and the blue sky might be seen. 

^^ Monday night — Left Inverness for Edinburgh. Rode 
outside the coach with Frederic part of the way, and much 
enjoyed the prospect of the woods of Strathspey, now 
golden with the autumn tints, and their background of 
huge mountains with rifted precipices coming into life and 
light under the rising sun. Craig Elachie is a noble 
mountain. Anderson mentions that the expression, * Stand 
fast, Craig Elachie ! ' is the gathering-cry of the clan Grant, 
the occupants of this great Strath. 

"At Perth, while our fellow-travellers were dining, 
Frederic ran to the Penitentiary, and I had a long talk 
with Mr. Hutchinson, the keeper of the jail. 

" Selkirk^ October 24. — Arrived here after a pleasant but 
cold ride. After dinner we drove to Melrose, stopping at 
Abbotsford on our way. The sun was setting as we passed 
through Sir Walter's plantations on the hillsides that he 
has clothed with beauty. The colours of the changing 
foliage were exceedingly beautiful, though mournful. 
Every light breeze scattered the leaves before us, and 
the Tweed murmured solemnly as it flowed. We both 
felt the harmony of the scene with our own emotions. 

• Through his loved grove the breezes sigh. 
And oaks in deeper groan reply, 
And rivers teach their rushing wave 
To murmur dirges round his grave.' 

200 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. X. 

" It was impossible not to think of every line of Lock- 
hart's description of the last journey towards this sweet 
home — the instant return of reason, and the wild rapture 
at the sight of the Eildon Hills, and of every dear and 
well remembered object. Had the lines to Caledonia, 
in the sixth canto of the * Lay/ been composed by Scott 
at that moment, they could not have been more expressive 
of his feelings. 

* Still, as I view each well-known scene, 
Think what is now, and what hath been^ 
Seems as to me of all bereft, 
Sole friends thy woods and streams were left; 
And thus I love them better still, 
Even in extremity of ill.* 

** In the front court, where Scott lingered on the autumn 
evening of his return, the roses were blooming as they are 
now, and the same calmness seemed to be spread over 
the scene. 

** On entering the house, the light was so obscured by 
the painted windows in the hall that it was impossible to 
examine the curious relics of olden time that crowd the 
walls ; nor did I feel inclined to do so, the whole was so 
impressive, so part of the living man, that I did not care 
for detail. The shadow of the magician was a greater 
relic than aught collected there, and was flung over every 
part The beautiful library was filled with splendid tables, 
antique cabinets, vases, etc. — gifts from poets, and great 
men, and crowned heads ; but they derive almost all their 
interest from being proofs of the homage paid to genius. 
Who could curiously examine Greek vases or showy 
cabinets within sight of the little study adjoining, from 
whence issued such wondrous spells ? The study is pre- 


cisely as it was left after Scott used it, two days before 
his death, when, after his arrival from abroad, he desired 
to be placed at his desk, and wrote a few lines. 

"A bed was put up in the dining-room for him near 
the window, and here he died, with the beautiful prospect 
he had loved so much in life spread out before him in 


1 840- 1 842. 

Mrs. Hiirs journals continued — Dr. Alison — Infant Felons' Bill 
and the Honourable Amelia Murray — The Bethunes— William 
Lloyd Garrison — Mrs. Fletcher and Allan Cunningham — 
Authorship of " There's nae luck about the house " — ^Visit 
to Ayr — The widow of Burns. 

''/edburgky October 27, 1840. — After breakfast I went with 
Frederic to the jail to settle about the matron's room, 
the bath-room, etc., and to talk to the women. 

"The warder — a very kind-hearted man of fifty — has 
a most unfortunate appearance. He is tall and very thin, 
with a deadly white face, red tyts and red nose. We 
naturally asked whether he was given to drinking. Mr. 
Boyde, the governor, said, on the contrary, he was an 
excellent officer, but he had had this strange appearance 
from childhood. He told me that a poor woman, who 
came to see her husband who was imprisoned for debt, 
was so frightened when this man opened the gate that she 
nearly fainted. She took him for the hangman I 

"I left Frederic with the male prisoners and followed 
my ghostly guide, the warder, to the women's side of the 
prison, when suddenly, looking at me with the most 
insinuating expression, he asked, 'Mistress Hill, do you 
think in the new arrangements there will be room for a 

1840.] A LOVE-SICK TURNKEY. 203 

poor turnkey's wife, should he be inclined to marry ? ' 
After thus breaking the ice with me he had some private 
talk with Frederic, who sympathized so much with the 
poor man's love-story, that he kept his countenance and 
never smiled till relating the interview to me, when he 
gave the warder the name of the 'sentimental scarecrow.' 

^'Greenlaw, October 28. — Went with Frederic to the 
jail. A female prisoner was baking some bread made of 
barley and peas flour. I found that the peas gave a bitter 
taste to the bread, but in spite of this it is preferred to 
oatcake on account of its moistness. Wheaten bread had 
been used formerly in the prison, but upon Frederic's 
ascertaining that this peas bread was the food of the 
country, and that it was pronounced by the doctor to be 
wholesome and nourishing, he changed the dietary in 
order that the prisoners might not fare better than their 
honest neighbours. 

"The keeper's wife is to be appointed matron. She 
seems to be a very good person. I learnt that several 
prisoners had been taught to read (though this has 
hitherto formed no part of a keeper's duty). Mrs. Johnson 
brought her young son to me who had taught a man, 
under sentence of death, to read the New Testament. 

"A lad whom I noticed had formerly been a most 
unruly prisoner. He was an orphan, and had been 
apprenticed to a brush-maker who had ill-treated him. 
When he first came into prison he tore his clothes, broke 
his porridge-basin, and did all the mischief he could. As 
a punishment he was placed in a dark cell, and was even 
ironed, but he remained as wild as ever. Mrs. Johnson 
told me she saw that all harsh treatment was making him 
grow worse and worse. She said to her husband, * Let's 
try to calm him down by kindness.' 'And so, ma'am/ 


she continued, ' we smoothed down his nerves a bit, and 
now he can't behave better than he does, poor lad I though 
do what I will he won't take to his book.' 

*^ Edinburgh, October 31. — Frederic and I met Dr. 
Alison in the old town. He turned and walked with us 
for a considerable distance. We congratulated him on 
the resolution of the town council to petition Parliament 
for an inquiry by the Poor Law Commissioners into the 
state of the country. It was delightful to talk to this 
good man on the progress of his great work. Two months 
ago, when he seemed a little desponding, I told him I 
would allow him the same time for its accomplishment 
that his fellow-benefactor had taken to establish Penny 
Postage — ^two years and a half — but he shook his head 
and said, ' Oh no, he should never be so happy.' Every- 
thing, however, looks promising now, and I have little 
doubt that in the time I mentioned he will see his glorious 
labours crowned with success. The blessing he will be to 
Scotland is incalculable. 

'^ Edinburgh^ November 3. — Mr. Neale, the author of 

* Juvenile Delinquency in Manchester,' is a candidate for 
the governorship of the Edinburgh prison. We asked 
him to dine with us to meet Mr. Simpson and one or two 
other friends. Mr. Neale spoke of the new Bill called the 

* Infant Felons' Bill,' which has lately been introduced into 
Parliament. The provisions are very similar to those of 
the French law, which gives Government the power, under 
peculiar circumstances, to sentence a young offender to 
a long term of confinement for his first offence in order 
to rescue him from evil surroundings. Mr. Neale 
mentioned the curious fact that this Bill was entirely 
projected and drawn up by one of the Queen's maids of 
honour. Upon this Mr. Simpson informed us that its 


author was the Honourable Amelia Murray, and added, 
moreover, that she had sent it to him in manuscript to 

"The conversation afterwards turned upon an article 
which appeared in ih&AthencBum for October 24 — a review 
of the memoir of a poor labourer, John Bethune, who was 
honest, industrious, and self-educated. His story, as told 
by his only surviving brother, is a most pathetic comment 
upon the neglect, in this country, of the necessitous poor. 
All our friends were greatly interested in it, and Mr. 
Simpson said it should be sent at once to Dr. Alison to 
serve as an unanswerable argument against Dr. Chalmers' 
scheme of supporting the poor by the poor. 

" • . . I have purchased the memoir, and have also 
procured a copy of the two brothers' lecture on ' Political 
Economy for the Poor.' They are written in so polished 
a style that it is difficult to realize the dire poverty which 
obliged their authors to make use of such materials as 
grocers' bags for writing-paper. I have written to 
Alexander Bethune, who is still working as a labourer at 
Newbury, in Fifeshire, and have received a very interesting 
letter from him. I have also heard from the minister of 
the parish, who confirms our opinion of the moral and 
intellectual worth of the two brothers. 

'^November 15. — Dined with our friends the Wighams, 
and enjoyed, as usual, the very atmosphere of their well- 
ordered and cultivated home. We met a Mr. and Mrs. 
Anderson just returned from Jamaica, and an American 
gentleman of the name of Collins, a delegate from the 
Original Anti-Slavery Society, of which the heroic Garrison 
is the head.* 

* Twenty-seven years later, when slavery in America had 


" Mr. Anderson is a missionary. He and his wife had 
resided for five years in Kingston. They gave the same 
account of the * day of liberation ' as has been lately 
published in Chambers's Journal from the Government de- 
spatches. Some of the delegates from the Anti-Slavery 
Society went to Jamaica to witness the effect of the 
abolition. • When they returned to America they published 
an account of it; giving the admirable speech of the 
governor of the island, Sir Lionel Smith, and describing 
how well the negroes responded to it by their orderly 

*Mr. Collins mentioned a curious fact respecting the 
criminal laws in Georgia. He says that whilst there are 
seventy-three crimes which are punishable by death in the 
case of a slave, there are only three for which a white man 
suffers the same penalty. 

^^ November 21. — We had a visit this morning from our 
good friends Mr. and Mrs. Wigham. They brought with 
them Mr. Dunn, the master of a large Lancastrian school, 
where six hundred children are instructed, to see my stores 
of drawings, books, songs for children, etc, and to have a 
regular lesson from me in the use of these things ! At 
Mr. Wigham's request I gave Mr. Dunn all the help in my 
power. Memorandums were made of Mr. Grant's bold 
outlines for teaching elementary drawing, of the sketches 
of animals for teaching natural history, and of Mr. Hickson's 
songs for children. Many of these have been introduced 
into schools from our showing them to friends. 

ceased to exist, Mrs. Hill had the pleasure of being present at 
the congratulatory breakfast given in London to William Lloyd 
Garrison. She was accompanied by her son-in-law, Mr. John 
Scott, and her nephew, Dr. Birkbeck Hill. The recollection of 
this joyful and triumphant gathering was an abiding pleasure 
to her.— Ed. 

1 841.] JEAN ADAM. 207 

^* January 16, 1841. — Dined at Mrs. Fletcher's, and 
passed a very agreeable evening. Her daughter, Mrs. 
Davy (wife of Dr. Davy, brother of Sir Humphry), is now 
staying with her during her husband's absence at Con- 
stantinople. Dr. Davy has gone there, by the direct 
invitation of the Sultan, to establish the English hospital 
system in the Turkish army ; but he almost despairs of 
effecting much good in the time he can devote to the 
object, owing to the dilatoriness of the people. 

"I had some very interesting conversation with Mrs. 
Fletcher upon Cromek's 'Reliques of Burns,' and his 
edition of the 'Nithsdale and Galloway Songs.' I had 
observed her name mentioned in the notes. 

" When Cromek came to Edinburgh Mrs. Fletcher gave 
him letters of introduction to several of her friends who 
were admirers and collectors of Scottish song, including 
Allan Cunningham. She herself furnished him with the 
interesting account of poor Jean Adam, the authoress of 
the beautiful song, 'There's nae luck about the house.' 
Mrs. Fletcher had heard the story while staying with Mrs. 
Fullerton, an aged lady, living near Greenock, who had 
formerly been one of Jean Adam's pupils when Jean kept 
a small school at Crawford's Dyke. Mrs. Fullerton re- 
membered her reading some of Shakesp^re's plays with 
enthusiasm to her little scholars. She also remembered 
her telling them of her intention to walk to London in 
order to see Richardson the novelist, and the wonderful 
account she gave them on her return home of her journey. 

" Poor Jean had been brought up in penury, and her 
poetic powers could not keep her above want when she 
gave up her little school. After wandering about some 
time she was compelled to seek shelter in the Poorhouse 
at Glasgow. She died the following day, and all that 

2o8 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. XI. 

records the fate of this gifted, tender-hearted woman is 
the entry of her death in the parish register.* 

" In expressing my admiration of the ' Nithsdale and 
Galloway Songs/ I observed that they were invaluable, 
not only for their beautiful and vivid imagery, but for 
portraying the tastes and feelings of a peasantry among 
whom they » had been so carefully preserved from a by- 
gone age. Upon this Mrs. Fletcher told me a fact which 
considerably chagrined me. It appears that few of these 
songs are of the origin that Cromek states them to be ; 
the greater part of the collection are written by Allan 
Cunningham. When Mrs. Fletcher sent Cromek to Allan 
Cunningham (thirty years ago), the latter thought that 
Cromek wished to see specimens of his own poetry ; he 
therefore showed him some. But, to his great mortifica- 
tion, Cromek treated them almost with scorn, saying that 
it was absurd for any one to attempt to write Scotch 
songs after Burns. Cromek, however, went on to say that 
as Burns had created a taste for old Scottish song, he 
should be thankful to Cunningham if he could obtain any 
fragments for him to publish. Cunningham, in a letter 
to Mrs. Fletcher, says that the thought immediately came 
into his head of imposing upon this critic who was so 
great in his own estimation, but merely for the fun of the 
thing. He accordingly wrote a few verses and took 
them the following day to Cromek, who was enchanted 

♦ The authorship of "There's nae luck about the house" is 
a disputed point In 1810, Cromek, after adopting Mrs. Fuller- 
ton's evidence as conclusive, changed his opinion in favour of 
W. J. Mickle, the translator of the " Lusiad," on what seems to be 
insufficient proof. Messrs. Finlay Dun and John Thomson, 
in their edition of the " Vocal Melodies of Scotland/' published 
in 1836, attribute the poem to Jean Adam. — Ed. 


with them, and besought him to strive to obtain more 
poetry from * this rich vein of native talent* 

" Nothing would satisfy Cromek but a thorough examina- 
tion of all Cunningham's store of old songs — as he sup- 
posed them to be — and then he declared they were * the 
very things for publication 1 * Cunningham was amused, 
and continued the deception, which, he says, was certainly 
not for the purpose of gaining money, as he only received 
four pounds for transcribing the poems. He does not pretend 
to justify the act, but says he does not think it very culpable. 

" Allan Cunningham, in another letter to Mrs. Fletcher, 
which was read to me, describes the interview with Sir 
Walter Scott when the latter was sitting to Chantrey for 
his bust Scott taxed Allan with being the author of 
the * Nithsdale and Galloway Songs,' saying, * Ah, Allan, 
none but the uninitiated could be deceived. They were 
too good, mofiy to be old.' Thus attacked, Allan avowed 
the truth. He repeats this avowal to his friend Mrs. 
Fletcher, in order that * if the matter were to come before 
the public hereafter, and mistakes were to arise, his secret 
might be in safe and upright hands.' 

"Mrs. Fletcher described to me her first acquaintance 
with Allan Cunningham. She was staying with a friend 
in the neighbourhood of Dumfries. This lady said to her 
on the morning after her arrival, * Do you see that group 
of labourers in my grounds preparing to build a new wall ? 
Well, a poet of no common order is among them. See 
if you can find him out. He is courting my housemaid, 
and it was from her that I learnt of his talent Since then 
I have given orders for him to have a duplicate key of 
our library, and, although I can vouch for his not neglect- 
ing his work, I understand that he actually sits up half 
the nights reading.* 



"Mrs. Fletcher went to the busy group and quickly 
discovered the poet. Two or three years later Allan 
Cunningham came to Edinburgh to improve himself in 
his trade as a mason. When engaged as a common 
workman in building some of the houses in George Street, 
Mrs. Fletcher lent him not only her own books, but pro- 
cured for him, through Mr. Fletcher, books from the 
Advocates' Library. At last Allan became assistant 
sculptor to Chantrey. It was he who obtained from Sir 
Walter Scott a promise to sit to Chantrey. Cunningham 
always accompanied his master, and, under his directions, 
worked much at the bust himself. 

'^January 21. — Mr. George Combe, Mr. Trevelyan, Mr. 
Robert Chambers, Mr. Simpson, and Mr. Charles Mac- 
laren came to breakfast at our house, and these guests, 
with my husband at the foot of the table, made as agree- 
able a party, I think, as ever assembled. For two or 
three hours the most earnest, philosophical, or playful 
conversation went on. Everybody seemed happy and 
animated. . . . Before our party broke up, Mr. Robert 
Chambers told me that he had read the chapter on * Saving 
Societies ' in Bethune's * Practical Economy,' and had pre- 
pared an article upon it for the JournaL 

"The Journal keeps up its vast sale of seventy 
thousand copies weekly. The new edition of Information 
for Oie People is selling to an amount beyond the most 
sanguine expectation. Add to all this the valuable cheap 
books belonging to their * People's Edition,' their school 
books and maps, and it is evident that the good the two 
brothers are effecting is enormous. It is pleasant to see 
how their labours are appreciated by such men as the 
Bethunes. But they are valued also by the ordinary class 
of poor people. The servants here frequently quote from 
the JournaL 


"The Chamberses will shortly bring out some cheap 

** May 12. — Last Monday I was at a party at Mr. and 
Mrs. Robert Chambers*. One of the two * princes * was 
there, the veritable grandson of Prince Charles Edward 
and the Duchess of Albany. He is a highly accomplished, 
elegant-looking man, and his Highland costume with its 
jewelled ornaments well became him. 

''Dundee, May i8. — Frederic up soon after five o'clock, 
and at the prison till eight. After breakfast I went there 
with him to examine the female prisoners. The cleanli- 
ness in every department does the matron great credit. 

'' Arbroathy May 19. — The jail here is one of the old, 
badly constructed, badly managed prisons, but it will soon 
give place to a new one. 

" Perthy May 22. — Perth delighted me as much as ever. 
Every approach to it is pleasing and orderly, from the 
nicely trimmed hedgerows and neat cottages to the beau- 
tiful avenues. I went to the prison and saw the female 
prisoners (twelve in number). All were engaged in profit- 
able work. They spoke with pleasure of their new, com- 
fortable clothing, and were quite proud of their cleanliness. 
Mrs. Hutchinson, the matron, told me that the improve- 
ment in cleanliness has been most striking since the rule of 
wearing prison clothing has been made imperative. As 
long as any of the prisoners were allowed to wear their 
own clothes no amount of care could banish dirt and its 

" Sunday y 2yd. — Frederic was at the prison before six 
o'clock this morning. This afternoon he went to hear 
Mr. Esdaile preach. Mr. Esdaile is a candidate for the 
office of chaplain at the general prison. He is a sincere 
but liberal Christian, and has exerted himself for many 


years in the cause of education for the poorer classes. 
Frederic says his language is eloquent and his manner 
cheerful and persuasive. Frederic also heard him give a 
lesson in the Sunday school on Biblical geography, and 
liked his ways to the children. Mr. Esdaile has the 
general management of two Sunday schools, and has 
established a library of some magnitude for the use of 
the children. 

*^ Morpetk, June ii. — Mr. Cousins, the keeper of the 
prison here, told us some interesting facts connected with 
the separate system. He has a clever lad in the prison, 
a young pickpocket, who, on first coming, boasted much of 
his acquaintance among thieves and of his power of detect- 
ing a police-officer in whatever guise he might assume. 
This lad, though he has been only three weeks in prison, 
and probably never saw a loom till now in his life, has 
acquired the art of weaving a superior kind of hearthrug, 
sorting the various colours and arranging them himself. 
His delight at the effect he is able to produce by his skill 
and industry is very great Mr. Cousins said, *A new 
ambition seems born within him. He talks of nothing 
now but of working hard to save up money to buy a loom.' 
He can now make, in only one day, a rug which will sell 
for twelve shillings. Mr. Cousins remarked that though 
few of his young prisoners were as clever as this boy, that 
all, even the most stupid, were much interested in this rug- 
making, and all felt a new self-respect on finding them- 
selves able to accomplish the work. He mentioned three 
instances of prisoners intreating him to be allowed to 
remain in the prison for a time after their term of confine- 
ment had expired, in order that they might earn money 
enough to buy decent clothes and to pay for their journeys 

i842.] A POET'S BIRTHPLACE. 213 

^' June 16, 1842. — We went to Ayr from Glasgow by 
the half-past seven o'clock train. A very pleasant ride of 
forty miles, the last ten of which was along the coast. The 
day was beautiful, the huge mountains of Arran standing 
out in such bold, clear forms that they appeared only two 
or three miles distant instead of fifteen. The sea was of 
every shade of bright green and deep blue, broken with 
lines of dancing white foam — no angry surges, but happy 
spirits of the deep, coursing one another over their vast 
playground. The sandy shores were diversified by a few 
villages and one or two neat watering-places. The land 
is too poor for aught but a scanty vegetation and the wild 
flowers indigenous to the spot The dwarf white rose 
literally covers the ground with stars for miles. Lapwings, 
dotterels, and sandpipers made the scene lively with 

"Upon our arrival at Ayr we spent an hour on the 
shore, thinking and feeling how one man of true original 
mind and warm heart had stamped every stone with his 
image. We had some of his sweetest verses before us, and 
realized the scene which * Coila * describes in the * Vision/ 
alluding to the early life of Burns, when 

* With future hope I oft would gaze 
Fond on thy little early ways, 
Thy rudely carolled chiming phrase, 

In uncouth rhymes 
Fifd at the simple artless lays 

Of other times. 

' I saw thee seek the sounding shore, 
Delighted with the dashing roar; 
Or when the north his fleecy store 

Drove thro' the sky, 
I saw grim Nature's visage hoar 

Struck thy young eye. 

214 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. XI. 

' Or when the deep green mantled earth 
- Warm cherish'd ev'ry floweret's birth, 
And joy and music pouring forth 

In ev^ry grove, 
I saw thee eye the gen'ral mirth 
With boundless love. 

' When ripen'd fields and azure skies 
Caird forth the reaper's rustling noise, 
I saw thee leave their evening joys 

And lonely stalk 
To vent thy bosom's swelling rise 

In pensive walk.' 

" We had a letter of introduction to a Mr. Hall, a great 
admirer of Burns, and who himself is well worth knowing. 
He was formerly a small hairdresser in the town of Ayr, 
but a man of intelligent pursuits. His own beautiful 
grounds by the side of the Doun enclose the well men- 
tioned in * Tam o' Shanter,* above which the thorn stood 
where Mungo's mother hanged herself. Mr. Hall is very 
ready to show visitors anything connected with the poet. 

"We passed the white cottage, of two rooms, where 
Burns passed his early life, and proceeded to the monu- 
ment — a very elegant and classical but, to me, a singularly 
inappropriate testimony of respect to the peasant bard. 
Terraced gardens surround the building, filled with gor- 
geous specimens of foreign flowers, all to adorn the 
memory of him who has made the 'mountain daisy' a 
flower of more enduring fame than any that greenhouse or 
hothouse can produce. Within the monument is a table, 
on which are two glass cases, the one containing his 
* Works,' the other the Bible which he gave to * Highland 
Mary.' In the first leaf are two or three verses from the 
Psalms and a few private marks, which conveyed probably 
some peculiar meaning to the lovers themselves. The 

1 842.] A POET'S WIDOIV. 215 

Bible on Mary's death passed into the hands of her 
brother, who emigrated to Canada. It has since been 
recovered and purchased from the family. Near to the 
monument is a small Grecian temple, in which are placed 
Thorn's statues of * Tam o' Shanter ' and * Souter Johnny.' 
One cannot but regret that the tender and pathetic 
features of Bums's Muse have not found a representation, 
rather than the humorous portrayal of a vice which 
causes too much misery to be lightly thought of. It is 
impossible to turn from the cells of a prison which, in nine 
cases out of ten, drunkenness has been the means of filling, 
and laugh with full glee at * Tam o* Shanter's * adventures. 

" Mr. Hall told us of a visit from Burns's aged widow, 
nine years ago, to see the monument He invited her 
from Dumfries for that purpose. When it was known in 
Ayr that she was going to breakfast with Mr. Hall, many 
of the gentry who were not in the habit of visiting him, 
requested Mr. Hall as a great favour that they might be 
allowed to meet her. He replied that he did not know 
whether this might be agreeable to Mrs. Burns's feelings. 
Upon going to meet the stage-coach Mr. Hall found a 
crowd assembled to see her alight, and among them the 
gentlemen who had wished to breakfast with her. He 
mentioned the circumstance to Mrs. Burns, and upon 
receiving her hearty permission he beckoned them to 
follow to his house. 

" Every one admired the erect bearing and the elastic 
step of the venerable lady. During breakfast she was in 
excellent spirits, and talked of Burns, of their early days, 
and of their various visitors of every rank and degree. 
She mentioned that a neighbour had called recently on 
her to say that a poor lad, a seller of tapes and buttons, 
wandering through the country, had set his heart on seeing 


Mrs. Burns, and asked whether she might bring him to her 
house. Permission being readily given, the neighbour 
returned, bringing the little tape-merchant There were 
three or four persons present, and the boy looked anxiously 
round, and said in a low voice, *When will Mrs. Burns 
come ? * He was told that she stood next to him. * Nae, 
nae, ye'U no gar me believe that Burns says, " my bottnie 
Jean." ' The poor lad thought that * bonnie Jean's ' charms 
would be as enduring as her fond husband's poetry. 

" Mr. Hall said that Mrs. Burns kept perfectly cheerful 
till she entered the monument, when she suddenly became 
ill and nearly fainted. He thinks she was pleased with 
the superb token of respect to her husband's memory ; but 
the contrast of life and death, the hard struggles they 
had gone through, the great need they had felt of the 
sympathy which was shown too late to save, all over- 
powered her. She was removed to the open air, and soon 

" We visited the Bridge of Doun. I remarked to Mr. 
Hall that the people of Ayr ought to preserve it reli- 
giously. He then told me that it had barely escaped 
destruction, for, a new bridge being required, the old 
bridge was actually in the course of being taken to pieces 
to supply material. This happened during the * Race 
week.' A gentleman of Ayr wrote a witty petition in the 
name of the • Auld Brig,' and sent it to the gay company 
in the public ball-room. In half an hour six hundred 
pounds was subscribed to save the interesting relic To 
the honour of the people of Ayr, the subscription was not 
called for. They felt rather ashamed of their former pro- 
ceeding, and themselves paid the sum required for new 
material. Mr. Hall superintended the restoration of the 
old bridge. Every stone except two was replaced. 

1842.] ''THE AULD CLAY BIGGIN.'' 217 

** In returning to Ayr we went into Burns's cottage — 
'the auld clay biggin.' In a bed in the room in which 
Burns was born, where the old roof had nearly fallen in, a 
poor old man was lying. He is one of the few now living 
who remembers Burns." 



1842- 1 844. 

Scottish Poor Law and Lord Dunfermline — Sheriff Watson's 
schools — W. M. Thackeray — Secession of the Free Kirk — 
Procession of ministers — Letter from Mrs. Fry — Maria 
Edgeworth and Professor Cowper — Debate on Postal 
Reform—" Field Day." 

About this time the question of the Scottish Poor 
Law was brought forcibly before the public. In 1 840 
Dr. Alison had addressed himself to the public con- 
science in a pamphlet on the "Destitution of the 
Poor in Scotland," which made a strong impression. 
Associations were formed in^ Edinburgh and in all 
the large towns in Scotland to inquire into his 
statements, and to apply to Parliament for a new 
Poor Law. 

Unlike the English, the Scottish Poor Law at 
that time afforded no relief to any person pro- 
nounced by the local authority to be able-bodied, 
however severe his destitution, or however ready 
he might be to repay the cost of food and shelter 
by work. Moreover, every now and then a person 


was pronounced to be " able-bodied " who was 
notoriously the reverse. The result of this state 
of things was, as I have already mentioned, that 
there were many voluntary prisoners in the Scotch 
gaols. Even where the imprisonment was of a 
stringent character, including solitary confinement 
and hard labour, persons applied for permission to 
be received within the prison walls, or to remain 
there after their term of imprisonment had expired. 
At the Glasgow Bridewell alone these voluntary 
prisoners sometimes numbered thirty or forty. 

I earnestly desired to point out to Govern- 
ment, in my official reports, the urgent need for an 
efficient Poor Law, but felt doubts as to whether, 
in my capacity as a servant of Government, it 
would be permissible to do so. 

I recollect a conversation I had on the subject 
with Lord Dunfermline in the autumn of 1842, 
of which I find notes in my journal. We were 
travelling from Edinburgh in order to inspect the 
Perth prison, both being members of the Board 
of Directors. I asked for his opinion as to the 
advisability of my dealing with the question of 
the Scottish Poor Law in my forthcoming report, 
observing that as Sir Robert Peel had expressed 
his opinion that some action should be taken, I 
thought I might now venture to bring the subject 

220 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. XH. 

directly before Government. Lord Dunfermline 
gave me the counsel of a truly canny Scotchman. 
He advised me to give no formal statement of my 
views, but suggested that when stating such facts 
connected with crime as exposed the evils arising 
from an inefficient Poor Law, I might make "my 
remarks in such a way as to let them appear to 
spring spontaneously, and almost to escape from 
me unawares." For instance, after mentioning the 
large number of voluntary prisoners, I might say, 
" Thus the prisons of Scotland are, in fact, serving 
as Unions." 

"After a time," continued Lord Dunfermline, 
" some member of Parliament, in looking over your 
report, will come upon this sentence, and, think- 
ing he has made a great discovery, will hurry, full 
of self-importance, down to the House with the 
report in his hand, and will start up on the first 
opportunity, exclaiming, * Here's a revelation! 
The prisons of Scotland are serving as Unions!' 
Upon this, Peel will probably send for the report, 
and may make a speech of a quarter of an hour 
upon that one fact. By this means you will not 
alarm Peel's pride by giving him instruction on the 
subject of the Poor Laws, and yet will gain your 

I followed this advice, and felt that I had done 

1842.] NEED OF A GOOD POOR LAW. 221 

what I could to call public attention to a pressing 
need. In the end my action, no doubt, did good, 
but the immediate effect was an order from 
Government to discontinue the practice of re- 
ceiving voluntary prisoners, and to turn out those 
already received. Foreseeing that Government 
might issue this order, I had strongly recommended 
in my report the establishment of houses of refuge 
as temporary asylums for this class of persons. 
They had already been tried on a small scale and 
had proved successful. But, unfortunately. Govern- 
ment did not take up the plan with any vigour, 
and as several years elapsed before a good Poor 
Law was given to Scotland, many persons re- 
mained in the criminal class who might have been 

Meanwhile, men of all shades of political opinion 
in Scotland were working together for the good 
cause. Conspicuous among these were Lord Jeffrey 
and Professor Wilson. 

In a letter dated November 3, 1842, I write — 

" I have been to-day to hear Professor Wilson give 
a lecture at the college in favour of the principle of 
the English Poor Law. He was, in my opinion, more 
earnest and eloquent than logical ; but it is good to have 
such a man on the right side, even if he may not give the 
best reasons for being there." 

222 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. XH. 

When I first visited Aberdeen, in 1835, I became 
acquainted with Sheriff Watson, the founder of 
Industrial Schools, with whom I formed a friend- 
ship which lasted till his death. 

The simple and inexpensive means by which 
great results may be obtained has seldom been 
more strikingly shown than in the Aberdeen 
schools. When they had been in existence for a 
few years the whole county was emptied of its 
juvenile beggars and young thieves. 

After I had left Scotland, Sheriff Watson wrote 
to me — 

"In 1 841, while you were labouring to improve our 
prison discipline, I was labouring to establish schools 
for the destitute. Our cognate occupations naturally drew 
us together, and you were among the first to encourage 
me to prosecute the then doubtful experiment You 
always predicted success. ... 

"The importance of industrial school training is now 
universally acknowledged, and if it were faithfully and 
systematically carried out, would form a centre of attrac- 
tion for all classes of the community. It would soon 
become manifest that the widows' prayers and the orphans' 
thanks were of more avail in warding off national con- 
vulsion than all the purchased batons and bayonets of the 

Elsewhere describing the origin of the schools, 
he wrote — 


'*As the only local stipendiary magistrate, and every 
day called upon to deal with juvenile delinquents, more 
sinned against than sinning, I resolved to mitigate and, 
if possible, remove this great social evil ; and, to that 
end, proposed to open an Industrial Feeding School, where 
they would be fed, educated, and trained to habits of 

In October, 1841, the school was opened in an 
old warehouse that had been obtained at a low 
rent, with ten or twelve boys dragged in by the 
police. The number of children rapidly increased, 
till in a few years' time there were four schools in 
operation — a boys' school, two girls' schools, and a 
school for both boys and girls. 

The children did not sleep at the schools, but 
returned to their parents in the evening, as Sheriff 
Watson was averse to breaking the family tie ; 
and such was the effect of good training upon 
these children, once the pests of society, that in 
many cases they became the "little missionaries 
of their home circle." 

As many of the boys would become farm- 
labourers, it was considered well to give them some 
knowledge of rocks and soils ; they were, therefore, 
encouraged to bring to school specimens of every 
kind of rock or earth they could find, till, with 
a little help from their teachers, a very practical, 
though small, geological collection was formed. 


Rough shelves were put up bearing the names of 
the various strata in their proper order. Upon 
these the boys themselves placed their specimens. 
Simple lessons were given on these substances, and 
on their uses in agriculture and manufactures. 

A small museum of natural history was also 
formed, the powers of observation and general 
intelligence in the children rapidly increasing under 
this kind of instruction. 

In one instance, where a boy on leaving school 
had been placed in a printing-office, the head of 
the establishment wrote to Sheriff Watson — 

"He is not naturally clever, but rather the opposite; 
yet, amid half a dozen boys of similar age, I find this 
boy decidedly more serviceable in doing various things 
requiring some exercise of intelligence. In short, regarding 
the instruction given as a means to an end, I should say 
the difference between him and others is that he has a 
more thorough and ready command of the tools that have 
been put into his hands." 

The artisans of Aberdeen, realizing the great 
benefit to their own families of the withdrawal of 
a dangerous class from the streets, presented the 
school fund with a sum of no less than two hundred 

The children were given three meals a day of 
plain but wholesome food. Deducting the money 


received for work done, the annual cost per child 
was only five pounds. My wife, who visited the 
schools with me, and who, like myself, had a warm 
esteem and admiration for their founder, wrote 
an account of them many years afterwards, which 
appeared in the Leisure Hour for December, 1885. 
The following is taken from this account : — 

"When I visited the schools in 1845, the girls* school 
was in a moderate-sized house with a small garden 
attached to it 

" It was scarcely possible to believe that those neat little 
children before me, with the polished hair, clean frocks 
and pincloths, sewing so diligently, could have been 
rescued from the worst population of the city. But the 
fact was soon proved to us. A new scholar arrived — a 
little wretched, ragged girl, whose skin was as dirty as 
her frock, and whose hair stood out many inches from her 
head in one great tangle 

"The mistress received her kindly, and told her to go 
into an adjoining room, where a woman would give her 
a warm bath and lend her a nice wrapping-gown to wear 
whilst her own clothes were washed and dried — a work 
which was done very rapidly. When the child returned 
to the schoolroom the mistress looked into her great bag 
of pieces to find some suitable for patching the holes 
in the old frock. The child was then put under the 
superintendence of an elder girl, who fixed the patches 
and showed her how to sew, helping her considerably in 
this first lesson. The child went home that evening 
totally changed in appearance, and she, as well as her 
parents, must have felt the value of the school. 



" I was told of one little girl who on her return to her 
poor home entreated her mother to let her scour the dirty 
floor, and would never go to bed till she had made things 
tidy, so that at last the mother imitated the child and 
became industrious herself. 

"Indeed, one of the objects of the founder of the 
institution was to act upon the parents as well as the 
children. Once every month they were invited to come 
to the schools to hear the children sing, repeat poetry, 
Bible stories and texts, and to look at their writing, sums, 
and needlework ; and sometimes, during the summer, 
they were invited to a little feast, given by the children 
themselves,, of tea, bread and butter, and fresh lettuces and 
radishes from their own little gardens. 

" Part of Sunday was spent by the children attending 
a short service at school. The parents were invited to this 
service, and many came who had never entered a church. 

" I heard many interesting anecdotes of the little pupils 
as I passed from one room to another. One child had 
been trusted to carry a parcel to a lady who had ordered 
some needlework, and who would give her eight shillings 
in payment, to be taken safely back to the schoolmistress. 
When the lady was counting out the money, after saying 
some kind words in praise of the work, she was surprised 
by the child's bursting into tears. On being asked the 
cause, the child could at first only sob and exclaim, 'I 
was only minding the differ ; ' and then she explained 
that but a year ago she had begged of that lady's servant 
to give her a 'bawbee.' The servant had found her, 
early one morning, at the stone stair-head, where she had 
been sleeping all night, and had driven her away with 
hard words, and now she was never cold or hungry, and 
the lady herself was trusting her with ' a* that siller.' " 


Sheriff Watson used to describe a visit paid by 
the author of " Vanity Fair " to one of the schools 
situated in Sugar House Lane. The sheriff 
accompanied him, and was somewhat surprised at 
his total silence during the inspection. On leaving, 
Thackeray turned to him exclaiming, " If I had 
attempted to speak to you I should, like a great 
lubberly boy, have burst into weeping/' 

In the month of May, 1843, the Established 
Church of Scotland was rent in twain by the 
secession of those who formed themselves into the 
Free Kirk. ''It was," to use Lord Cockburn's 
words, *'the greatest event that had occurred in 
Scotland since the rebellion of 1745," and long 
before it took place it was the leading topic of 
discussion in Edinburgh. 

One party maintained that owners or patrons of 
livings had alone the right to appoint the minister, 
and that moreover they had the right to force him 
upon the parishioners, provided he were under no 
legal disqualification, however odious he might be 
to them. The other party maintained that the 
parishioners possessed a legal right to reject such 
a minister. 

" But this point was soon lost sight of, absorbed in the 
far more vital question, whether the Church had any 
spiritual jurisdiction independent of the control of the 


civil power. This became the question on which the 
longer coherence of the elements of the Church depended. 
The judicial determination was, in effect, that no such 
jurisdiction existed. This was not the adjudication of 
any abstract political or ecclesiastical nicety. . It was the 
declaration, and, as those who protested against it held, 
the introduction, of a principle which affected the whole 
practical being and management of the Establishment. 
On this decision being pronounced, those who had claimed 
this jurisdiction, which they deemed an essential and 
indispensable part of what they had always understood 
to be their Church, felt that they had no course except to 
leave a community to which, as it was now explained, 
they had never sworn allegiance." • 

It was on the i8th of May that my wife and I 
happened to be walking towards George Street, 
when we met a procession of black-coated, white- 
cravatted gentlemen whose countenances one and 
all were striking, for they bore an expression of 
stern and melancholy determination. I learnt 
afterwards that these men had just renounced all 
worldly prospects, with manse and kirk, to follow 
the dictates of conscience. They were the seceders 
from the Established Church who had just left the 
meeting of the General Assembly. 

The name of Dr. Chalmers is intimately asso- 
ciated with this great movement. In his '* Life " by 

• See Cockbum's "Life of Jeffrey." 

1843] A MEMORABLE DAY. 229 

Hanna the following account is given of the final 
scene in the drama : — 

" The day of trial at last arrived. For some days pre- 
viously an unprecedented influx of strangers into Edin- 
burgh foreshadowed the approach of some exciting event. 
Thursday, the i8th of May, the day named for the meeting 
of the General Assembly, rose upon the city with a dull 
and heavy dawn. So early in the morning as between 
four and five o'clock the doors of the church of St Andrew's, 
where the Assembly was to convene, opened to admit the 
public. As the day wore on it became evident that the 
ordinary business of the great city had, to a great extent, 
been suspended ; yet the crowds that gathered in the 
streets wore no gay or holiday appearance. As groups 
of acquaintance met and commingled, their conversation 
was obviously of a grave and earnest cast." 

Towards midday the Marquis of Bute, as Lord 
High Commissioner, held his first levde at Holy- 
rood, and on its close proceeded as usual to St 
Giles's Church, and from thence, when service was 
over, to the meeting of the General Assembly at 
St. Andrew's Church. 

" Dr. Welsh, the moderator, entered and took the chair. 
Soon afterwards his Grace the Lord High Commissioner 
was announced, and the whole assemblage rose and re- 
ceived him standing. Solemn prayer was then offered 
up, and, the members having resumed their seats. Dr. 
Welsh read, amidst breathless silence, the protest of the 
seceding party. When the reading was finished he laid 

230 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. XH. 

the protest upon the table, turned and bowed respectfully 
to the commissioner, left the chair, and proceeded along the 
aisle to the door of the church. Dr. Chalmers, seizing 
eagerly upon his hat, hurried after him with all the air of 
one impatient to be gone. Mr. Campbell of Menzie, Dr. 
Gordon, Dr. Macdonald, Dr. Macfarlan followed him. The 
effect upon the audience was overwhelming. At first a 
cheer burst from the galleries, but it was almost instantly 
and spontaneously restrained. It was checked in many 
cases by an emotion too deep for any other utterance than 
the fall of sad and silent tears. The whole audience was 
now standing gazing in stillness upon the scene. Man 
after man, row after row, moved on along the aisle till the 
benches on the left, lately so crowded, showed scarce an 
occupant. More than four hundred ministers and a still 
larger number of elders had withdrawn. 

" A vast multitude of people stood congregated in St. 
George's Street, crowding in upon the church-doors. When 
the deed was done within, the intimation of it passed like 
lightning through the mass without, and when the forms 
of their most venerated clergymen were seen emerging 
from the church, a loud and irrepressible cheer burst from • 
their lips, and echoed through the now half-empty Assembly 

" There was no design on the part of the clergymen to form 
into a procession, but they were forced to it by the narrow- 
ness of the lane opened for their egress through the heart 
of the crowd. Falling into line and walking three abreast, 
they formed into a column which extended for a quarter 
of a mile and more. As they moved along to the new hall 
prepared for their reception, very different feelings pre- 
vailed among the numberless spectators who lined the 
streets and thronged each window and door and balcony 



on either side. Some gazed in stupid wonder ; the majority 
looked on in silent admiration. 

" Elsewhere in the city Lord Jeffrey was sitting reading 
in his quiet room, when one burst in upon him saying, 
' Well, what do you think of it ? More than four hundred 
of them are actually out' The book was flung aside, and, 
springing to his feet, Lord Jeffrey exclaimed, * I'm proud 
of my country ; there is not another country upon earth 
where such a deed could have been done.' " 

One of the self-sacrificing ministers who renounced 
one of the best livings in Scotland, was Mr. 
John Ainslie, brother of my valued friend and 
connection, Mr. Daniel Ainslie, of the "Gart" 

Large funds had to be raised for the support of 
the poorer ministers, but contributions flowed in 
rapidly and the necessary money was obtained. 
Two advocates of Edinburgh (both of whom I 
knew), Mr. Graham Spiers and Mr. Menteth, gave 
up each one-third of their yearly income to this 
fund. The latter gentleman is spoken of highly 
and affectionately by Lord Cockburn in his " Cir- 
cuit Journeys." 

The correspondence of myself and my wife at 
this time brought us some letters of general interest. 
A mutual friend sent me a copy of a letter from 
Mrs. Fry to Mr. W. Allen, the Quaker philanthro- 
pist and friend of the Duke of Wellington. It was 



written in the autumn of 1842, and has not^ I 
believe, appeared in print. 

"I think you will be interested to hear that we got 
through our visit to the Mansion House with much satis- 
faction. After some little difficulty that I had at arriving 
from the crowd, which overdid me for the time, I was 
favoured to arrive, and when led into the large drawing- 
room by the Lord Mayor I felt quiet and at ease. 

** Soon my friends flocked round me, and I had a very 
satisfactory conversation with Sir James Graham, and I 
think the door was opened for further communication on a 
future day ; it appeared most seasonable my then seeing 

" I then spoke to Lord Aberdeen, and the door was 
opened for his helping us, if needful, in our foreign affairs. 

" During dinner for about two hours, when I sat between 
Prince Albert and Sir Robert Peel, we had deeply interest- 
ing conversation upon the most important subjects : with 
Prince Albert, upon religious principle, its influence upon 
sovereigns, etc. ; its importance in the education of children, 
and upon modes of worship ; our views respecting it, etc. ; 
why I could not rise at their toasts, not even at the one 
for the queen ; why I could rise for prayer, etc. ; also on 
the management of children generally ; on war and peace ; 
on prisons and punishment And I had the same subjects, 
or many of them, with Sir Robert Peel. I think I hardly 
ever met with so cordial a reception from all parties 
and difierent ranks. The kindness shown me was extra- 

" After dinner I spoke to Lord Stanley about our colonies, 
and I think I was enabled to speak to all the men in power 
that I wanted to see. 


" I shook hands very pleasantly with the Dukv \ of 
Wellington, who spoke beautifully, expressing his desire 
to promote the arts of peace and not of war ; he said he 
was not fond of remembering the days that were past, as if 
the very thought of war pained him. I could not but feel 
that it is good for various persons of various descriptions 
to be brought together ; it promotes peace and love, and 
removes much prejudice and party feeling." 

Letter from Professor Cowper to his sister^ 
Mrs. Hill. 

" 97, High Holbom, May 3, 1844. 

"... A short time since I called at Mr. Lestock 
Wilson's to see Miss Edgeworth. It was at breakfast- 
time. Her younger brother was in the room when I 
arrived, and presently Miss Edgeworth came in. I bowed 
and introduced myself at once, and at once we were 
acquainted. She is a very little woman, but although 
so advanced in life, is full of spirit and cheerful good 
temper. We talked and chatted at ' railroad speed.' 

"I then asked her if she would like to see King's 

"'To be sure I should. I should like to see every- 

"£. Cowper (in a joking cheerful manner). * I hope you 
will excuse my having sent the card of admission to my 
lecture on Telegraphs to Mr. Wilson instead of directly 
to yourselC I did not know whether your health was 
such that your friends would allow you to go out in the 

^^Miss Edgeworth (laughing). 'Oh, hang my friends! 
I will go everywhere in spite of them alL' 


" ' Well, sister/ said young Edgeworth, ' you know you 
have promised Mr. Wheatstone to go to King's College 
to-morrow at two o'clock.' 

''Miss Edgeworth. 'To be sure I have.' 

"£■. Cowper, 'Well, then, I will have the pleasure of 
showing you my room, and how we teach mechanical 
things in a college.' 

"Accordingly she came, and Wheatstone entertained 
her in George the Third's Museum for two hours and a 
half. She then came into my room and stayed about 
half an hour. Then I said I was sure she must be fatigued, 
and so said her friends the Beauforts ; but she said, ' Oh 
no I oh no I ' but I said, ' Really, I will not show you 
anything more.* 

"She was very much pleased. She liked my coarse 
models extremely. 'The coarser the better. I can see 
them and understand them well.' I explained the 
Jacquard loom to her, and then she asked, ' Ah, but how 
are the cards made ? ' 

" ' Why, ma'am, you are as bad as Prince Albert ; for 
when I showed him the Jacquard loom he asked me 
precisely the same question.' 

''Miss Edgeworth. 'Then Prince Albert is a very 
clever fellow.' And all this passing as lively and quick 
as the chat of an evening party. 

" I showed her the Parlour Press, and presented one to 
her, and she insisted on having my name written on it by 
myself. I gave her also the cards showing the comple- 
mentary colours, and a little movable diagram showing 
the principle of the Jacquard loom, and we parted glad 
to have met each other. 

" I showed her also the model which I had made of her 
father's telegraph, and then she became thoughtful and 


seemed to call up old recollections. * Yes, that is it ; that 
was what he used, and I thank you for mentioning it in 
your public lectures.' 

" I said, ' It will always be in this room, so that every 
student who comes here will know it to be your father's.' 

" Yesterday week, at the Royal Institution, I found the 
' Life ' of her father left there for me — a present from her, 
with her own writing within the cover. ' Maria Edgeworth 
to E. Cowper, Esquire, with her thanks for the notice of 
her father's telegraph and his kindness to herself.' " 

Since the establishment of penny postage in 
January, 1840, the reform had met with persistent 
opposition from those in authority at the Post-Office. 
The result was that in July, 1842, when the Tories 
were in office, my brother Rowland was dismissed 
from his post at the Treasury. No man but him- 
self could carry his great plan, as a whole, into 
effect, and in dismissing him, his measure was, 
to use his own words, ''handed over to men who 
had opposed it stage by stage, whose reputation 
was pledged to its failure, and who had unquestion- 
ably been caballing to obtain his expulsion from 

These men had thus gained their point for the 
time being, but meanwhile leaders of the Liberal 
party came forward with expressions of strong 
indignation for the injustice done, and with offers 
of assistance. The public conscience began to be 


aroused. Cobden, describing the feeling evinced 
in Scodand, wrote to Rowland, " The heather's on 

On the loth of April, 1843, a petition for inquir- 
ing into the state of the Post-Office, proposed by 
my brother and in his own name, was presented to 
the House of Commons by Mr. Baring,* and on 
the following night Mr. Hawes gave notice that 
Sir Thomas Wilde would call the attention of the 
House to the same soon after the Easter recess. 
Various delays occurred, but finally the matter came 
before the House on the 27th of June. 

" The motion of which Sir Thomas Wilde had given 
notice was for a select committee, 'To inquire into the 
progress which had been made in carrying into effect 
the recommendations of Mr. Rowland Hill for Post-Office 
improvement ; and whether the further carrying into effect 
of such recommendations, or any of them, will be beneficial 
to the country.' "f 

It can easily be imagined with what anxiety we 
looked forward to a debate so important to the 
prospects of postal reform. I was in Scotland at 
the time, but my friend Mr. James Simpson, who 
happened to be paying a visit to London, pro- 
mised to send me the earliest tidings. 

* Late Chancellor of the Exchequer. 

t See "Life of Sir R. Hill," by Dr. Birkbeck HUL 

1844.] DEBATE IN THE HOUSE. 237 

His letter, addressed to my wife, is as follows :- — 

" 41, Doughty Street, June 28, 1843. 

"My dear Mrs. Hill, 

" I promised a few lines with my impressions 
on the field-day. It passed off yesterday, and was a 
triumph. The Liberal House, and notoriously the country, 
are too decidedly with Mr. Rowland Hill to have made 
it safe for Sir Robert Peel to have refused the committee. 
It was conceded, in fact, though in a different form, for 
decency's sake. 

'* It would have done your heart good to have witnessed 
the generous support of the Liberals, and the shouts with 
which the mention of Mr. Rowland Hill's words were 
received; the hearty condemnatory cheers with which 
Wilde's Post-Office exposi was answered ; the decent 
silence of the other side ; but, above all, the prophetic 
declaration of Sir Robert Peel (made tauntingly to the 
Liberals) that Mr. Rowland Hill ought to be made 
Secretary of the Post-Office at once — an appointment 
which will certainly take place one day. 

•* The discussion and its publication all over the country 
is invaluable. It makes the temporary eclipse all the 

" It was delightful to see the Hills of three generations 
in the House — ^from the venerable head with his black 
silk cap in the Speaker's gallery, in gradation of Matthew, 
Edwin, and Arthur, down to the youths from Bruce 
Castle and Hampstead. 

"I am 

" Affectionately yours, 

"James Simpson." 


My father also writes on the occasion — 

" 44, Chancery Lane, June 28, 1843. 

"My dear Frederic, 

**...! went into the Speaker's Gallery at 
the House of Commons, and had the pleasure of hearing 
a noble speech from Sir Thomas Wilde on the question 
that so closely concerns us all. . . . 

" It was delightful to me to hear the speakers uniformly 
speak highly of your brother. Mr. Baring, who knew him 
best, gave him a very high character indeed. This we 
know he well deserves, but not all men have their just 
merit acknowledged. 

" Mr. Goulbum* complained, however, of his letting out 
the secrets of the prison-house ; rather a dangerous admis- 
sion that there was that which could not bear the public 
eye. One good stroke amused the whole House. The 
Post-Office had made a vaunting return of the sums trans- 
ferred by means of money orders. It stated it at eight 
millions per annum, adding the sums paid out to the sums 
paid in. Your brother Rowland, who sat under the 
gallery, whispered to a member that it seemed that the 
water which ran into a pipe and that which ran out, put 
together, made the water that ran through the pipe. Mr. 
Goulbum had unfortunately quoted the Post-Office docu- 
ment, thinking it favourable to his case ; but the pipe's 
comparison had reached Mr. Baring, who pat it out in 
good style and raised a roaring laugh, • . . 
" I remain 

"Youraffec*^- father, 

"Tho. W. Hill." 

* Chancellorof the Exchequer. 

I844-] JUSTICE AT LAST. 239 

Rowland's health, which was never robust, 
suffered from the continued strain put upon his 
powers at this time. 

Harriet Martineau wrote to me in the spring of 

" I am glad to hear your glorious brother is going to be 
quiet at Croydon. He must complete the glory of his 
achievements by preserving, if possible^ health and at least 
a buoyant and cheerful spirit till he is wanted again to 
carry out his entire scheme That day must come. 
Meantime entire rest seems to be his duty. I do wish it 
could be found in foreign travel ; its effects are so marvel- 
lous in recruiting an overwrought mind and nerves too 
much tried. I trust his worldly fortunes will soon have 
grown beyond the limits of all anxiety, and then perhaps 
his family will urge him to go abroad. 

" Pardon this freedom if it seems to you excessive ; but 
you would hardly think so if you knew that he has written 
to me with a kind confidence which seems to authorize my 
saying what I think to his affectionate brother." 

Two years later I received the following note 
from Rowland : — 

" Reform Club, November 25, 1846. 

"Dear Fred^., 

"I have accepted the offer of Government of 
an appointment as Secretary to the Postmaster-General. 
The appointment to be permanent 

240 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. XH. 

" The engagement has much to recommend it (I shall 
be in close communication with the Postmaster-General 
and the Treasury). . . . 

"The appointment is avowedly for the purpose of 
carrying out my plan. 

" In haste, 

" Yours affectfy, 

"R. Hill." 

( »4i ) 



Prison matters — A great Eastern Pacha — Tour in Switzerland — 
Home rejoicings on Repeal of Com Laws — ^William Lloyd 
Garrison and Frederick Douglas — Archbishop Whately — 
Lord Melbourne and the Queen — Edinburgh sculptors — 

During the long reign of the Peel administration I 
had much petty opposition to contend with from Sir 
James Graham, the Home Secretary, and earnestly 
did I desire the return of the Whigs to power, not 
only as a benefit to the nation at large, but especially 
in connection with my work of prison reform. As 
long as Lord John Russell had been my official 
chief, my hands were left completely unfettered. 

My wife wrote to her eldest sister on December 
20, 1845— 

"I write a hasty line to express my heartfelt joy at 
Lord John's having accepted office. I have been in the 
most painful suspense since Frederic left me for Glasgow. 
I had no means of learning the truth till an hour ago. 
Most earnestly I hope a long reign is before the Whigs. 
The very last act of Sir James Graham has been to 



attempt to undo half the good that has been done in 
Scotland in prison discipline, by urging the directors to 
assimilate their rules to those of the English prisons — that 
is, to * introduce penal or useless labour and flogging, and 
to diminish the power and responsibility of the governor.' 
All these he calls ^ great improvements! Fortunately he 
has overstepped the law, and told us to break both the 
spirit and letter of the Scottish Prisons Act" 

In April, 1846, I made a tour of inspection in 
Northumberland and Durham, which counties, as I 
have before mentioned, formed part of my district 
I wrote to my wife from Newcastle — 

" At a small prison in this neighbourhood I found the 
keeper in perplexity how to act. A prisoner (the only one 
in the gaol) had fortified the door of his cell on the inside, 
so that the keeper could not enter. The keeper asked me 
whether he should break open the door. ' By no means/ I 
replied. * Let the man alone until hunger compels him to 
ask for food ; when, in order to get it, he must, of course, 
pull down his barricade. Then give him food, but very 
sparingly, and for some time afterwards keep him on short 
allowance.' This advice the keeper followed, and he had 
no further trouble. 

"I told you I had gained over one of the county 
magistrates — the chairman of the visiting justices, with 
whom before I had had strong differences of opinion. 
How do you think I obtained his good will and favourable 
opinion ? By not wearing a nightcap ! When we met 
we began, as in duty bound, to speak of the weather, and 
I remarked that I had still the remains of a cold. *A 
cold 1 ' he said. ' Do you wear flannel ? ' * Yes.' * Do you 

1846.] A NOVEL SIGHT. 


wash in cold water every morning from head to foot?* 
'Yes.' 'Do you wear a nightcap?' 'No.' 'Then you 
ought never to have a cold ; and I can't imagine how you 
caught It' After this explanation his tone became friendly, 
and he invited me to drink tea with him, which I did." 

A little later I went up to London in order 
to join my brother Arthur previous to our taking 
a tour on the Continent together, and also to be 
present at a public dinner to be given to my 
brother Rowland. 

I wrote on June 19 — 

"At Wolverton, where the trains stop some time for 
refreshment, a gentleman in my carriage having got out 
heard that Ibrahim Pacha was in the refreshment-room. 
He ran to get a peep at him, and found him, to the amaze- 
ment of all beholders, with a loaf in one hand and a roll 
of butter in the other, plasterjng and eating as fast as he 
could 1 

Frank (the husband of my sister Caroline Clark), who 
came up also for Rowland's public dinner, told us a good 
story of the Pacha at Birmingham. It appears that the 
skeleton of a great whale is exhibiting there just now, 
and Ibrahim and his suite went to see it, and got inside. 
No sooner did the showman see Ibrahim within the 
skeleton, than he rushed out of the shed, locking the door 
behind him, and blowing his horn proclaimed to the crowd 
that the great Eastern Pacha was to be seen inside the 
whale. He doubled the price of admission, but the place 
was at once crammed with people, and the showman 
reaped a capital harvest. To the additional delight of the 


spectators, the grand Pacha, who was trying to make his 
escape, was found stuck between the ribs of the whale." 

The following are extracts from the letters which 
I sent home from Switzerland : — 

" Chamounu — A mile's walk and a further descent over 
the dibris of the mountain brought us to Loeche Bad, 
a place where there are natural hot baths, much frequented 
by the French and Swiss, but not by the English. The 
temperature of the water is brought down artificially 
to blood-heat, and people remain in it six or eight hours 
a day I They wear large gowns, and bathe in company 
without regard to age or sex. They have little floating 
trays before them, on which you see books, flowers, coffee, 
etc. Strangers are admitted to see the bathers, and when 
we went there must have been sixty or seventy in the 
water, all very merry and some very noisy ; many of the 
ladies with their hair dressed, or wearing fine caps. Two 
were playing the game of *Fox and Goose,' and some 
were amusing themselves by squirting water, which they 
do with much dexterity. Arthur gave great satisfaction 
and excited cries of ' Bravo ' by making them a low bow ; 
and, indeed, our entrance on to the platform was greeted 
with general cheers. . . • 

'' Arthur, who feels the heat much more than I, is in the 
habit, when he comes to a public fountain, of dipping his 
umbrella into the water, and then walking off with the 
dripping umbrella ovqr his head, to the amusement of the 

"5/. Gothard. — One of the daughters of the landlord 
of the Grimsel Hospice (where we are this morning) is 
the only handsome g\x\ or woman we have yet seen in 

1846.] THE ''LION'' OF LUCERNE. 245 

Switzerland. I should think an English girl would have 
a dozen lovers within an hour of her arrival at any place 
in this country. What can be the cause of so sad a dearth 
of personal beauty in a land of so much natural beauty ? 
Whatever it be, I trust that it will be ultimately removed. 

''Meyringen. — Yesterday we witnessed the grandest 
natural sight, at least the finest combination of grandeur 
and beauty, which I ever beheld — the fall of the river Aar 
and of a tributary stream from a height of two hundred 
feet into a fine mountain gorge. The extraordinary 
character of the fall is caused by the circumstance of the ^ 
two streams dashing against each other and uniting about ) 
halfway down. The Aar, from its volume and weight, 
strikes against the tributary with such force as to cause 
a great portion of it to rise again nearly to the top in 
the form of splendid clouds of spray producing beautiful 
rainbows. The waters disappear in mist, coming in sight 
again in one clear unbroken column. 

" Liiceme. — Left for the Righi. On the road we came 
to a chapel erected on the spot from which Tell is said to 
have shot the arrow which killed Gessler. In the book 
in the chapel, in which strangers are invited to write, 
Arthur wrote, 'Tell won the liberty of his country by 
his courage, may his posterity preserve it by mutual 
love ; ' a hint of which the Swiss appear to be much in 
need. . • . 

"The most striking object at Lucerne is a monument 
by Thorwaldsen to the memory of the Swiss Guard killed 
by the populace of Paris when defending Louis XVI, 
It is shown to visitors by one of the few members of the 
Swiss Guard who eflfected their escape and are still living. 
I think it is the finest and most impressive monument I 
ever saw. It is cut out of the hard face of a large rock 


in a secluded situation, with a quiet pool of clear water 
before it and surrounded by trees. The figure represented 
is a wounded lion in the pains of death, trying, even at 
that moment, to protect a shield on which are carved the 
royal arms of France. There is a wonderful combination 
of dignity, majesty, and affliction in the lion, and the whole 
monument strikes you as grand in conception and most 
successful in execution." 

During my absence my wife wrote to me from 
our Edinburgh home, 55, Inverleith Row, of things 
public and private. In one letter she says — 

" The opening of the noble railways excites much good 
feeling. In the account of the grand opening of the 
Paris and Brussels line, I saw it mentioned that King 
Leopold stood at the station on his frontier to receive and 
welcome the first train, containing two thousand visitors ! 
The Berwick railway was opened last Monday. The 
good folk from Princes Street go for the bathing to Porto- 
bello in seven minutes ! " 

Again she writes — 

*'June 28, 1846. 

" I write with a light heart. The delightful news reached 
Edinburgh by yesterday afternoon's mail of the passing 
of the Corn Law Bill in the Lords without a single vote 
against it, the thorough defeat of the Irish Coercion Bill 
by 173 votes, and the return of good men and true to 
that power which they had made a blessing to their 

" Really the world seems to me twice as full of pleasant 
prospects 1 How we love to associate nature with our 


feelings ! Last New Year's Day, the morning after your 
departure for London, I saw the sun rise with great beauty 
over Arthur's Seat. It was at the time of the potato 
failure, and, feeling deeply interested in all Cobden's ap- 
peals for untaxed food, I earnestly wished that the next 
New Year's Day the blessed sun, the ripener of our count- 
less stores, might rise upon a new era of free trade. Peel's 
great measure had not then been proposed. Just now, 
as I recalled these feelings, I went involuntarily to the 
window, and there over Arthur's Seat stretched a rainbow 
brilliant with hope fulfilled ! 

"How I wish that the mighty dead could see the 
change of opinion upon subjects affecting the happiness 
of mankind ! but, though all unknown to us, they may be 
partakers of our joy in their wondrous state. 

" I do not think I shall tire you by mentioning again 
how often our three little girls talk and think of you. 
I met them by accident out walking with their nurse. 
They were shouting your name that you might hear them 1 
Flags have been painted more than a week to welcome 
your return. *Only to get ready, mamma,' said little 

Later in this year I find the following entry in 
my diary : — 

** November 5. — On Tuesday I breakfasted at Mr. 
Wigham's with a party including Mr. Lloyd Garrison, Mr. 
Frederick Douglas (the slave who effected his escape), 
Mr. George Thompson, Professor Pillans, and others. 
Mr. Garrison and Mr. Douglas are both prepossessing in 
their appearance, and are evidently men of strong intel- 
lect. At Mr. Wigham's request Mr. Garrison gave an 


account of the present state of the anti-slavery question 
in America. He said that it had made, and is making, 
rapid progress, and he appeared to think that the way in 
which the abolition of slavery will be ultimately brought 
about will be by the Northern States (for at present they 
scarcely deserve to be called Free States) insisting either 
on the repeal of the Fugitive Slave Law or the dissolution 
of the Union." 

My wife, who met Mr. Douglas at Mr. Wigham's 
house during the summer of this year, thus writes 
of him — 

"Mr. Douglas is self-educated and highly intelligent, 
and his adventures, which he related to us, are extremely 
interesting. He is lecturing for the cause of emancipa- 
tion. In a book which he has published he speaks of a 
'dialogue upon slavery' which he had read when only 
twelve years old, and which strongly impressed him. He 
did not know the author's name, but from his description 
I felt certain that it was Mrs. Barbauld's 'Master and 
Slave.' When I spoke to him on the subject he said he 
would give the world to read the story again, and that he 
had tried everywhere to procure it, but in vain. I told 
him I would send him 'Evenings at Home,' and I have 
just sent him a copy for his eldest son, a little lad of seven. 
It is pleasant to think how Mrs. Barbauld's nervous, 
energetic reasoning fired the heart of the poor, brave 
young negro." 

To return again to my diary. 

''November 5, 1846.— On Tuesday I dined at Mr. George 
Combe's, where there were present Archbishop Whately, 

1846^] A PLEASANT PARTY. 249 

his chaplain, Dr. West, Mr. Robert Chambers, Sir George 
and Lady Mackenzie, Mr. and Mrs. George Combe (the 
latter a daughter of Mrs. Siddons), Mrs. Crowe (author of 
' Susan Hopley *), and two or three other persons. 

"Archbishop Whately spoke of a conversation he had 
with Lord Melbourne after the passing of the Bill for the 
abolition of negro slavery. On leaving the House of 
Lords together Lord Melbourne said to him, 'Well, my 
Lord Archbishop, now it is over it is very well, but I think 
it would have been better if they had left it alone and not 
made so much ado about it Every civilized country has 
had slaves, and why should not we? The Greeks had 
slaves, and the Romans had slaves.' 

"We afterwards continued the conversation about Lord 
Melbourne in the drawing-room. I asked what was the 
cause of his success with the Queen, and the influence he 
obtained To which the archbishop replied that it was 
certainly not by flattery, for he did anything but flatter. 
He was exceedingly frank, and unhesitatingly gave expres- 
sion to his thoughts, whatever they might be. He sup- 
posed that the straightforwardness of Lord Melbourne, and 
his odd but clever mode of putting things, was pleasing 
to the Queen. He was, besides, a man of perfect good 
temper, of varied and extensive knowledge, which he 
acquired apparently without effort, and generally of sound 

" The conversation next turned to the pleasure of com- 
panionship, either in person or act, even in cases where 
there is no oral communication. Archbishop Whately 
told a story of two neighbouring gentlemen who used each 
to go into a bower in his garden to smoke a pipe after 
dinner. They never exchanged a word, but they always 
came out exactly at the same time, and when the first 


was ready to light his pipe he made a signal by waving 
his handkerchief to the other, and, on receiving a signal 
in return, they both began to smoke. The pipe out, 
they got up, bowed to each other, and walked into their 

Among our Edinburgh friends were two sculptors 
whom I have not yet mentioned — ^William Brodie 
and John Steele. 

My wife had occasion, in 1881, to write the 
following account of the former : — 

" Mr. Brodie was a working plumber in Aberdeen when 
we first saw him in 1846. He was fond of art, and 
attempted at all spare moments to model small bas-relief 
subjects, generally portraits. In these he was very suc- 
cessful. He executed an excellent likeness of Sheriff 
Watson while the sheriff was presiding in court 

" It was not possible to see Brodie and his wife in their 
own home without being interested in them, and without 
wishing to further Brodie's desire to become an artist. 
His little house of three rooms and a 'lean-to' was a 
model of a working man's home, and proved how much 
refinement was consistent with very small means. I shall 
never forget the little parlour. A bird sang in the window 
over a stand of flowers, in the midst of which was a globe 
of gold-fish. Prints of good subjects, bas-reliefs, and 
small copies of Raphael's 'Cartoons' were on the wall. 
A violin was on the table, the property of a friend working 
under the same master-plumber, and a piece of poetry 
written by another comrade. 

" Among those who encouraged Brodie's dawning genius 


were Sheriff Watson, Mr. and Mrs. John Hill Burton, Mr. 
Nimmo, Lord Murray, and ourselves. Brodie's master 
was induced to spare him for a month that he might visit 
Edinburgh. Before he arrived Mr. and Mrs. Burton and 
Mr. Nimmo had procured him twenty commissions for 
bas-relief portraits, at twenty-five shillings each. At the 
end of the month he had many more commissions, so he 
went back to Aberdeen, gave up plumbing, and brought 
his family to Edinburgh. He now studied art systemati- 
cally, and by the kindness of a gentleman named Buchanan 
he was sent, a few years later, to Rome. 

" His wife has proved as true a helpmate in prosperity 
as in the struggles of early life. She has seen her husband 
fully appreciated, and his portraits of the noble and the 
good spread over the land." * 

William Brodie is said '* to have made more por- 
trait busts than any other sculptor ; " amongst these 
were four of the Queen, and one of Lord Jeffrey. 
He executed the marble statue of Lord Cockburn 
in the Parliament House, and that of Sir David 
Brewster in the quadrangle of the University, and, 
later on, the colossal statue of the Prince Consort 
at Perth. 

I remember a remark of Mr. Brodie's about brain 
work and manual work. He said that when he 
was a plumber he imagined that handicraftsmen 
were the only hard workers, and that the work 
which is purely from the brain could be nothing but 

* Mrs. Brodie has died since the above was written. 


amusement. But when he became a sculptor he 
found, to his astonishment, that his early struggles 
as a mechanic, however severe, could not compare 
with the hard and exhausting labour which now 
came to him as brain work. 

Brodie was a full member of the Royal Scottish 
Academy, and when he died, in 1881, that body 
voted him a public funeral. My wife writes again 
of him — 

"Not only the Scottish Academicians followed the 
illustrious artist to the grave, but distinguished men of all 
professions, and friends from all classes. The grand pro- 
cession winding its way to the Dean cemetery evinced 
the wonderful contrast between Brodie's situation in early 
life, and his distinguished position at its close; but the 
man was the same, ever keeping his own character pure 
from the temptations of ambition. He was the same 
earnest Christian at the end as at the beginning, feeling 
that the Creator of all beauty was the God of truth. The 
minister who preached the funeral sermon, who had had 
long and intimate intercourse with him, said he ' never left 
William Brodie without feeling he had received help from 
him both for this life and the next' " 

Mr. Steele (after\i^ards Sir John Steele) was the 
sculptor of the statue of Scott in the Princes Street 
monument. This established his position as a lead- 
ing sculptor, and he afterwards made important 
statues of the Queen, the Duke of Wellington, the 


Marquis of Dalhousie, etc. He was a most simple- 
minded man, like many of our best artists, and a 
general favourite. 

In the year 1846 he visited Rome. In passing 
through Paris he went to the bank of the great 
financier Lafitte to get cash for a banknote for ten 
pounds. On his homeward journey, after crossing 
into France, he lost his portmanteau — no surprising 
event to occur to our art-loving but unpractical 
friend. But the means which he took to recover it 
were indeed surprising. Recollecting that Monsieur 
Lafitte, at whose bank he had changed his ten- 
pound note, was at the head of the Ministry, he 
wrote a letter to him, and, prefacing his request 
with an account of his important banking trans- 
action, asked the Minister to have a search made 
for the portmanteau. He enclosed a drawing of it, 
showing all its straps and buckles ! Lafitte received 
the letter while entertaining a party of friends, who 
were amused beyond measure at the naivetd of the 
young artist. On arriving in Edinburgh, Mr. 
Steele told us, with his wonted simplicity, what had 
happened, and great was our mirth at his recital. 
For some time afterwards when any of us met him 
we asked what news he had of his portmanteau. 
Indeed, the poor man was much twitted about 
it. But presently he was able to turn the laugh 


against us. The amused Lafitte had actually set 
all the police to work, and the portmanteau 
arrived bodily in Edinburgh, with a note from his 
private secretary conveying the Minister's con- 
gratulations to Mr. Steele on the recovery of his 
lost property ! 

( ^55 ) 

1 847- 1 850. 

Appointment as inspector of an English district — Summary of 
reforms in Scotch prisons — English prisons — Travels in 
England — A " cheap-jack " — " National Force " — Bishop 
Stanley — Infant magistrates — Stubborn jurymen. 

In the spring of 1847, Mr. Crawford, one of the 
inspectors of English prisons, died, and this causing 
a vacancy, I determined to apply for an English 
district. I considered my work in Scotland to be, 
in the main, finished, and now, after twelve years' 
residence in that country, I desired to be once more 
settled within reach of my aged father and of my 
brothers. My health also at that time had suffered 
from overwork, and a change of scene was deemed 
advisable. My application was successful, and thus 
my official career in Scotland came to an end. So 
much, however, had I become attached to the 
country and its inhabitants, that to quit them was 
felt by me as a severe wrench. 

The following is a short summary of the reforms 


in the Scotch prisons which I had been able to 

1. At the time of my departure all the prison 
buildings were well adapted for their purpose, and 
the " separate system/' with certain limitations, had 
been established. 

2. There was not in any prison a single bad 

3. In every prison there was industrial occupa- 
tion, more or less productive, to the exclusion of all 
artificial labour. The use of treadmills and cranks 
had been entirely abolished. 

4. Every prisoner who did more than his allotted 
task was allowed the value of his overwork (sub- 
ject to the control of the governor in its disposal) ; 
and thus a means was provided to the industrious 
on leaving gaol of making a fresh start in an honest 

5. The general conduct of the prisoners was 
good, although flogging was entirely abolished. 

6. The cost per head of the prisoners was com- 
paratively small. To take the last complete year 
of my superintendence as a guide, the average cost 
was ;^i6, whilst in England it exceeded £2^. 

Before quitting the subject of the Scotch prisons, 
I would again lay stress upon the great importance 
I attach to productive labour. How can a per- 

1847] VOLUNTARY WORK. 257 

manent habit of industry be acquired by a prisoner 
but by associating pleasurable and honourable feel- 
ings with industry, and painful and dishonourable 
feelings with idleness ? But hard labour is, at the 
outset, often made degrading instead of honourable, 
by forming part of the sentence of punishment 
awarded to some of the worst offenders. In Scot- 
land, at the time I am writing of, no one was ever 
sentenced to " hard labour," but every prisoner was 
set to work as a matter of course, and had a daily 
task assigned him representing ten hours' labour. 
The prisoner was employed, if possible, at his own 
trade, or, if ignorant of any, he was taught a trade. 
In proof of the success of the system of payment 
to prisoners for voluntary work done beyond their 
allotted task, I will quote the following passage 
from my last report on the prisons of Scotland : — 

" With the value of their overwork some of the prisoners 
assisted in maintaining their families, while a great number 
earned money for a decent suit of clothes, or had a small 
fund with which to support themselves on leaving prison 
until they could get work. In one instance a little boy 
in Glasgow prison, who had previously been a great source 
of trouble to his mother, was enabled, when his mother 
fell ill, to send her a pound, which, by great industry, 
rising frequently as early as three in the morning, he had 
earned. In another instance a prisoner of Aberdeen, a 
blacksmith, obtained money enough, not only to assist his 
family whilst he was in prison and to fit up a forge for 



himself on liberation, but to repay the person whom he 
had injured the whole amount of the loss which he 
occasioned him, which was £2t^. And in a third case, at 
Edinburgh, a young man who was an engraver, not only 
improved himself in his profession while in prison, but 
earned money enough to pay his passage to America, and 
thus to place himself in a position far removed from his 
former scene of disgrace, where he might obtain a new 
character, and where, in fact, he was afterwards heard of 
living respectably." 

A governor of one of the prisons writing to me 
on this subject remarked, " Very few prisoners who 
earned trntch money under this rule ever returned 
to prison'' The money was, of course, given out 
with much caution. It was generally put into the 
hands of the overseer of the parish where the dis- 
charged prisoner lived, the superintendent of police, 
or the churchwarden, to be used in the best way. 

My esteemed friend Mr. Brebner, governor of 
the Glasgow Bridewell, of whom I have already 
spoken, may be said to have lost his life in the 
advocacy of the great cause of industrial prison- 
work. He overtaxed his strength in preparing his 
voluminous evidence on this subject for the Prison 
Board, taking scarcely any rest for some nights 
previous to their meeting. Just as his evidence 
was to be given he was stricken with apoplexy, and 
died in my arms. 


Mr. Brebner was so highly esteemed that the 
Town Council of Glasgow voted him a public 
funeral. He was followed to the grave by crowds 
of all classes, and the police in attendance recognized 
many who had formerly been in Mr. Brebner's 
charge as prisoners. 

I began the inspection of my new district in 
England in the summer of 1847. It comprised 
the whole of the north of England and also of 
North Wales, to which an eastern district was 
afterwards added. 

Few of the reforms which I had carried out in 
the Scotch prisons had found their way into those 
of England. Treadmill and other unprofitable 
labour was in full force. No motives were given 
to industry, and voluntary work for payment was 
strictly prohibited. Any money given to a prisoner 
on his discharge was purely a matter of charity, and 
depended chiefly, like almsgiving in general, on the 
degree of destitution. 

In most of the English prisons I found the 
inmates either associated together, with some 
attempt at classification, it is true, but under very 
inefficient superintendence, or collected in larger 
bodies and subjected to the "silent system." 
This system I have always considered to be very 
pernicious. I write of it in my report for 1847 — 


"When prisoners are brought together it will, I think, 
be generally admitted that they should really associate as 
human beings, and not be doomed, as under the 'silent 
system,* to eternal silence, with their heads and eyes 
fixed, like statues, in one direction ; and that all attempts 
to enforce such a system, and to carry on such a warfare 
with nature, must be productive of endless attempts at 
deception on the part of the prisoners, and lead to much 
punishment. Again, that by turning the officers into 
constant organs of punishment, the system must greatly 
weaken their moral influence, and tend to prevent that 
feeling of respect and attachment which it is so desirable 
to create. The object of discipline in a prison, so far 
as relates to control, ought to be to curb only the bad 
passions and evil propensities, and not to destroy the 
social feelings, and stifle desires which are in themselves 
innocent. When, therefore, prisoners are placed together, 
although neither idleness nor disorder of any kind should 
be allowed, I would never recommend that they should 
be forbidden to look at each other, or, at stated periods and 
in a quiet tone, to converse." 

The "separate system," I found, was but little 
in use in the English prisons. Though strongly 
opposed to an unlimited use of this system, I 
consider it greatly superior, even when carried to 
excess, to the indiscriminate association of prisoners 
or to the " silent system." The plan which I look 
upon as the best is complete separation in the first 
instance (though in some cases for a very short 
period only), gradually followed, according to 

1848.] A DEGRADING BADGE. 261 

circumstances, by judicious classification, the amount 
of association increasing or diminishing as it is 
found to be beneficial or otherwise. 

Speaking of the clothing of the prisoners in 
England, I write — 

"The use of party-coloured clothing continues in many 
English prisons, carrying with it a degrading badge, 
opposed to that feeling of self-respect which, in the 
process of reformation, it is so important to create and 

On my first inspection of the prisons of North 
Wales I found that several governors, as well as 
under-officers, were unfit for their posts. I write 
to my wife on April 12, 1848-r- 

"I have very little doubt that the governors at 
Beaumaris and Carnarvon will be dismissed, and most 
assuredly the one at Ruthin ought to follow. All these 
men have been many years in office.** 

I found that the chaplain of one of the Welsh 
prisons was addicted to drinking. On my laying 
the case before* the magistrates, they assured me 
that they were aware of the fact, but that, being on 
social and friendly terms with him, none of them 
liked to tell him to resign. I offered to undertake 
the task, and my interview with the reverend 
gentleman ended in his placing his resignation in 


my hands. He thanked me for having as much 
as possible spared his feelings, and said he hoped 
that whenever I returned to that neighbourhood 
I would come and dine with him ! 

In this same year (1848) I write to my wife 
from York— 

"I am scattering the poor matrons before me in all 
directions. I had to recommend the removal of one from 
Durham, of another from Northallerton, and I see I shall 
have to recommend the removal of a third from here. 
This prison, although there is a well-meaning man for 
governor, must hitherto have been a sad place of corruption, 
little superintendence and no work. No wonder that there 
should be attempts to escape. Six prisoners I find under 
a charge of conspiring to attack some of the officers with 
a view to breaking out of prison. 

" HulL — The good people here seem to think that they 
have a ' commissioner of all work ' among them I I have 
no slight task at the prison, but, in addition to that, I have 
been applied to by the chairman of the Watch Committee 
to make suggestions for the improvement of the police ; 
another gentleman has begged me to take up the question 
of the want of a stipendiary magistrate at Hull ; a third 
has assured me that the application of endowments for 
education here requires investigation,' though he *was 
afraid such inquiry did not come strictly within my 
province ; ' and I had yesterday a message to inquire 
whether it lay within my power to examine into the state 
of the drainage in the suburbs of Hull ! " 

I write of a visit to Richmond, Yorkshire — 

1848.] ''ACCORDING TO HISTORY.'' 263 

" I got up early and went to see the old castle — a fine 
ruin in a commanding situation. My guide was one of 
those persons who have a stock phrase which they use 
on all occasions, without much regard to its appropriate- 
ness. With him everything was 'according to history.' 

* What is the height/ I inquired, ' of the fine old keep ? ' 

* According to history/ was his reply, ' it is ninety-nine 
feet* I suggested that it would be well to check history 
by letting down a piece of string, but he did not under- 
stand my drift. Walking on, we came to a part of the 
battlements where the hill, at the top of which the castle 
stands, descends precipitously to the river beneath. 'A 
pretty steep descent this,' I remarked. 'Yes, sir,' he 
answered, 'according to history it is almost perpendicular;' 
an answer which so tickled me as nearly to throw me off 
the perpendicular. 

"After receiving various other pieces of information 
' according to history,* I left the castle and went to see 
the ruins of an abbey, which you reach by a very pretty 
walk of about a mile by the side of the river. By this 
time I was ready for my breakfast, and returned to the 
inn. A gouty commercial traveller came into the break- 
fast parlour. It appeared that he belonged to the wine 
trade, and the gout of this worthy martyr had, no doubt, 
been brought on by his setting an example which he 
wished all his customers to follow. A gentleman asked 
him what kind of night he had had. ' Much better than 
usual/ he replied, ' owing to my having drunk four glasses 
of brandy and water before going to bed. And I sup- 
pose/ he added, with perfect gravity and with the air of 
a man who is trying to make up his mind to a disagreeable 
thing — ' I suppose I must do the same to-night' 

' After meeting the Mayor of Richmond and one of his 


fellow- magistrates, I found I had still time on my hands 
before the train started, and went into the market-place. 
A market, especially in a country town, is always to me 
a place of interest and attraction, partly owing, no doubt, 
to my having been in the habit, when a boy, of accom- 
panying my mother to market and carrying her basket. 
I like the clean, healthy-looking, country people, the odd 
medley of fruit, poultry, pigs, ironware, drapery, baskets, 
bonnets, shoes, tubs, and clocks, the quacking of ducks, the 
cackling of geese, and the neighing of horses. 

" In a distant part of the market-place I observed a 
young man standing on a chair and addressing those 
around him. I found that he was a ' cheap-jack ' selling 
chemical concoctions of various kinds, which he displayed 
in a sort of tray or pedlar's box suspended from his neck. 
He had lost his right arm, and was therefore obliged to 
perform his experiments with his left, often making use 
of his mouth also. He was very young — not more, 
apparently, than eighteen or nineteen — had an intelligent 
countenance and the command of fluent language. In his 
address there was a strange mixture of sound sense, odd 
extravagance, and error. When I arrived he was dilating 
on the virtue of a powder for fumigating rooms, and 
demonstrating its action by making a puff of smoke with 
a bad smell. For this valuable concoction I find, on the 
undoubted authority of my * cheap-jack,' a Parliamentary 
grant of ;^SOOO has been awarded to our friend Dr. South- 
wood Smith ! The honour of inventing another recipe 
he assigned to our friend Dr. Nichol, of Glasgow, who, I 
find, has no sinecure, either in lecturing or travelling ; for, 
in addition to his labours as an astronomer, it appears 
that he is professor of chemistry in the Universities of 
Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and St Andrew's ! 

1848.] '' SYMPATHETIC INK."" 265 

"By-and-by our young friend began to speak of the 
post-office, and urged upon his simple country auditors 
the necessity of preserving the important secrets in their 
letters by means of his ' sympathetic ink/ which, he stated, 
was invented by a distingfuished member of the *Antt- 
poke-your-nose-into-other-people's-business Society ! ' * No 
doubt,' exclaimed the young orator, 'when Sir James 
Graham was charged with the base act of opening 
people's letters he denied the deed. Like Banquo, he 
shook his hoary locks and said, " You cannot say I done 
it ! " But it was he who gave his secret orders to have 
it done. How much custom, gentlemen,' continued the 
vendor, * would any railway company have if they adver- 
tised that all parcels sent by their railway would be pried 
into ? And who,' he demanded, his eloquence rising with 
the occasion, 'who would send his letters through the 
channels of Government if he knew that they were to be 
subjugated to a fiety ordeal in the dark chambers of the post- 

'• York. — I wrote to you last night, and must be very 
brief now, as I am just starting for the prison, and much 
of the little spare time which I had has been taken up 
by my most loquacious landlady. She has been explain- 
ing to me, at great length, why, notwithstanding her 
husband is now worth ;£'2000, she continues to wear a 
short-sleeved gown in the morning — a practice which is 
' part of her nature, and which she would not give up, no, 
not if she possessed the Queen and all the Indies I ' " 

In this year (1848) the French Revolution took 
place. The excitement spread all over Europe, 
and was evinced even in this country by riots and 
other disturbances. Fears were entertained of a 


French invasion, and, my mind being thus directed 
to the subject of national defence, I conceived the 
project of a reserve force. My plan was to engage 
a number of well-disposed men, to have them 
efficiently armed and drilled, to pay them adequately 
when on duty, and to give them a small pension in 
old age. These men were to hold themselves in 
readiness to leave their various employments for 
service on the shortest notice. Thus a well-trained 
force would be at hand in all parts of the country 
to quell tumults, or to aid in resisting invasion. 

I wrote and published a pamphlet on this subject, 
entitled "A National Force for the Economical 
Defence of the Country from Internal Tumult and 
Foreign Aggression." It was favourably reviewed 
in the Examiner^ Globe, and Spectator newspapers. 
No such reserve force has, to this day, been 
established for inland duty, but in 1852 the 
Government brought before Parliament a project 
for establishing a naval reserve, and Mr. Bernal 
Osborne, in the House of Commons, charged the 
Ministers with having adopted my plan in its spirit, 
though without acknowledgment. 

Among the letters I received on the publication 
of my pamphlet is the following, from my friend 
John Hill Burton, the historian : — 


''20, Scotland Street, Edinburgh, April 12, 1848. 

"My dear Sir, 

" I was agreeably reminded of you the other day 
by receiving from you a copy of your able pamphlet, which 
I was glad to see receiving immediate notice in the 
Examiner, In accordance with its principles, it occurred 
to me, while we were hearing all the rumours of the 
threatened catastrophe in London, that the special 
constables were more to be relied on than the troops, 
and that some day or other it may turn out a mistake 
to suppose that mere discipline and isolation will make 
men taken from the dregs of society, as too many of our 
soldiers are, the firm friends of order and property. 

" It might have been wished — and I have heard other 
people who approve of your principle say the same — that 
you had gone more into detail, but I suppose official duties 
left little time at your disposal, and you thought justly 
that it would be a good service to publish the outline. 

" Yours ever, 

" J. H. Burton." 

The following is to my wife from our genial 
friend Mr. James Simpson. It is remarkable that 
in it he foreshadows the great Volunteer movement. 

"33i Northumberland Street, Edinburgh, March 8, 1848. 
"My dear Friend, 

"Your letter and Mr. Hill's pamphlet are just 
received, and both have given me much pleasure. We are 
truly happy to observe your good spirits, indicating that 
all is well with you. 

"The Cheap Defence plan is so good that I think it 


must be adopted. I have been myself, in society, advo- 
cating the training of every young man to the use of 
arms, but did not think of paying and clothing them. 
This last, however, may be necessary to obtain a certain 
available force. The ranks would be filled by competi- 
tion ; and I do not think that the force may not have 
added to it as many volunteer corps of gentlemen as will 
clothe themselves and bear all their own expenses. 

" The remarks on the tyranny of unions are excellent 
There are no greater tyrants than the lower classes, and 
they complain most loudly of tyranny. . . . 

" Mr. Edwin's pamphlet much delighted me. His plan, 
too, is excellent The Hills for ever ! Think of good Mr. 
Hill senior's interest in the French news at his age ! That 
wonderful event will turn to good, I trust 
" With love and esteem, 

" I am yours affectionately, 
"James Simpson." 

The following extracts are taken from letters to 
my wife during my tours of inspection : — 

"Manchester, March 28, 1848. 

** There was a capital meeting last night at the Free 
Trade Hall. I never attended a public meeting at which 
there was so much earnest, logical, and eloquent speaking, 
and I have no doubt it will have a very beneficial effect. 
The modest application of the West Indian planters for 
permission to take two millions a year out of our pockets 
was met as such impudent demands ought to be met 
Cobden spoke excellently, as did Milner Gibson, Bright, 
and Colonel Thompson. ..." 


** Ipswich, May 8, 1849. 

"On Sunday I passed a pleasant evening with Mr. 
Allen Ransome at his father's — a fine old gentleman, phy- 
sically, mentally, and morally. On our arrival we found 
him in his drawing-room with his family, his servants, and 
some of their children, reading to them interesting accounts 
of Ragged Schools ; and it was evident, by the respectful 
yet unembarrassed way in which some of the servants 
made remarks, that the whole household were living on 
friendly terms, but with proper subordination. 

"Mr. Ransome has more than a thousand men in his 
employment, engaged chiefly in the construction of agri- 
cultural implements and railway carriages, and he speaks 
in high terms of the conduct of the workmen and of the 
spirit of harmony between them and their employers. He 
says that he believes that the money which an employer 
expends in increasing the comforts of his workpeople is 
generally his most productive capital." 

" Norwich, September 23. 

"Bishop Stanley's funeral ceremony was very impres- 
sive, and so was the memorial service and sermon to-day. 
The sermon was in the best possible taste, and full of good 
matter, and the choir and organist seemed to throw their 
whole soul into the sublime music. The grave is in the 
nave of the cathedral, and around it were assembled a 
great number of children, in whose instruction and training 
the bishop had taken a personal interest The grave is 
so placed that at a certain hour of the day, the sunlight, 
coming through a painted window, will fall upon it 

" . . • I passed a very pleasant evening at Mr. Leigh's 
parsonage. He said that the late bishop would have 
entered warmly into my views and have thoroughly sup- 
ported me." 


"September 25. 

" I have avoided the subject of cholera in my letters, 
but I will mention for your comfort that I believe it to 
be a mistake to suppose that cholera is accompanied by 
pain. At Wakefield prison the surgeon told me, when I 
expressed surprise at not seeing the indications of pain 
in the faces of the patients, that he always considered it 
a good sign when there was pain, and that it was torpor 
and insensibility they had to contend with." 

'* Lincoln. 

" On Sunday I dined between the cathedral services 
with one of the county magistrates, Mr. Fardell, who 
knew Matthew when he came this circuit; and, by the 
way, I have Matthew's old lodgings. I was remarking to 
Mr. Fardell on the youthful appearance of most of the 
county magistrates at the meeting last week, and was 
surprised to hear from him that most of them had been 
put into the Commission of the Peace when they were 
mere infants ; and that till lately this was a common 
practice, just as children used to have commissions in the 
army and navy." 

"Lincoln, June, 1850. 

" I have heard a good story about the consultation of 
the jury that had to try a Dr. Snaith some years ago on 
a political charge, Matthew being the doctor's counsel. 
It appears that, except one, the jury was composed of 
Tories, all disposed to bring in a verdict of guilty, and 
that when they retired, the foreman (father of one of the 
county justices with whom I have been dining) went up 
to the dissenting juryman and addressed him somewhat 
in this fashion : ' Sir, we had best understand one another. 


I have been a soldier, and have passed twenty-four hours 
in a ditch, with nothing to eat ; so you have no chance of 
beating me, and you had better give in at once.' To 
which the other replied, ' What you say is very likely, but 
I have been a sailor, and I once passed three days and 
three nights on a plank in the middle of the sea, with only 
a crust of bread to eat the first day, and with nothing for 
the other two ; so I suppose I can hold out as well as 
another.* The foreman, in alarm, cried out, *By Jove, 
there's no beating that ! ' He sent off immediately to his 
medical attendant, got a certificate from him that his life 
would be endangered if he were kept long without food, 
succeeded thereby in obtaining the dismissal of the jury 
(which had the effect of an acquittal), and arrived at home 
only a few minutes late for the family dinner." 

** Manchester. 

" Mr. John Shuttleworth told me that at the exhibition 
in 1839 of the Mechanics' Institute here, a man one day 
demanded admission in so noisy a manner that it was 
evident he was intoxicated. Some of the directors who 
were present refused to allow him to enter, but a respect- 
able mechanic, himself a director, gave it as his opinion 
that the man was quite capable of conducting himself 
properly if they appealed to his good feelings. He further 
offered to accompany him round the rooms. The man 
was allowed to enter, and the sudden decorum which he 
evinced, as his good-natured guide pointed out the various 
interesting objects, was truly remarkable. He stayed two 
hours, and when he left the exhibition he turned to some 
of the directors and expressed his regret at the violence 
and rudeness of his conduct He requested permission to 
bring his wife and son the following Saturday, stating that 


his son was a fine likely lad, and would enjoy the sight 
of so many curious and beautiful objects still more than 
he had done. Permission being granted, he brought his 
wife and son, and remained even a longer time than the 
previous Saturday. He said he feared he was too old 
himself to take advantage of the classes of the Mechanics* 
Institute, but that his son should become a member, and 
he immediately paid down the subscription. On leaving 
the hall he again expressed his regret at his former 
conduct The wife was observed to linger behind, but 
as soon as her husband and son were outside the door, she 
suddenly turned to the directors, and, with a voice tremu- 
lous from emotion, said she knew not what gentleman she 
had to thank for admitting her husband, but that whoever 
it was she felt most grateful to him. That evening was 
the first for years that her husband had returned home 
sober, or that he had expressed any wish to give her 
pleasure. She stated that during the twenty years she 
had been married she had never been to a public place of 
enjoyment, and said how happy she had felt with her 
husband and son in looking together at such beautiful 
things I " 

( 273 ) 



Book on "Crime" — Indeterminate sentences — Modem crimi- 
nologists — Havelock Ellis — "Elmira" — Capital punishment 
— Changes in public opinion. 

At this time I was engaged in writing a book upon 
" Crime, its Amount, Causes, and Remedies," which 
appeared before the public in 1853, with Murray 
for its publisher. This work recorded the informa- 
tion I had gained and the opinions which I had 
been led to adopt during my sixteen years' inspector- 
ship of prisons, I have had no reason to change 
these opinions, and it is a matter of much satisfaction 
to me to see the modern school of scientific penolo- 
gists bringing forcibly before the world such subjects 
as the hereditary nature of crime, the relation of 
crime to insanity, and cognate matters to which 
I gave my support so many years ago. 

I cannot state what I consider to be the funda- 
mental principles of our dealings with crime and 
criminals better than by quoting from my book. 


274 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. XV. 

" The leading principle of the criminal law of Britain, 
like that of most other countries, as I understand it, is to 
deter from crime by awarding punishment for different 
offences in proportion to their magnitude. 

"The objections to this principle appear to be insur- 
mountable. In the first place, it is one which it is im- 
possible to carry out with anything like accuracy, owing 
to the infinite variety of circumstances which increase or 
diminish the guilt appertaining even to the very same act, 
or which indeed make the commission of an apparently 
small offence really more culpable sometimes than that 
of a great offence. 

" Much, no doubt, is done to meet these inequalities by 
the latitude given to the judge who passes sentence, but 
that x^pro tanto an abandonment of the principle on which 
the laws are constructed. 

"But even if it were possible to draw up a list of 
offences according to their real turpitude and their injury 
to society, and to prepare a corresponding scale of punish- 
ment, it appears to me that it would not be wise to act on 
such a system. 

"The object of punishment being the prevention of 
crime, that punishment cannot be well fitted for its 
purpose which, after the infliction has terminated, allows 
an offender to be let loose again on society, without 
regard to the cause of his offence, or to the fact whether 
such cause has been removed ; and without reference 
even to the possibility that the offender may have been 
hardened and rendered worse by the very punishment 

" This objection seems fatal to the plan of meting out 
doses of punishment as cures for specific crimes. No 
doubt it is necessary, with a view to the deterring effects 


on other members of society, that a person should suffer 
by the commission of crime, and that his condition should 
be rendered worse than that of the peaceable and honest 
man ; but this has been ordained by laws superior to all 
human edicts. Not to dwell on the unhappiness of a life 
of crime, even while the offender is at large, I maintain 
that the natural consequence of crime in the withdrawal 
of the offender from the privilege of mixing with society, 
which he has abused, and his confinement until he can 
be safely restored, more fully carries out this principle of 
punishment than almost any other plan that could be 
proposed ; for in proportion to the length of the habits of 
crime and heinousness of the offences committed would, 
in general, be the period necessary for effecting a cure, 
and consequently the duration and amount of the 

"Whether, therefore, we try to suppress crime by the 
mere infliction of punishment according to the number 
and magnitude of the offences committed, or whether we 
try to stop crime by curing the criminal, or, where complete 
cure is impossible, by improving him to the greatest 
possible extent, the natural and self-regulating punish- 
ments which God has instituted and pointed out appear 
to be the best and most accurately adapted for securing 
that the amount of punishment shall be in proportion to 
the offence committed. 

"But who is to determine the fact of cure? and who 
the precise means by which a cure is to be effected? I 
would submit that those only are fully qualified to do 
this who are entrusted with the charge of the offender, 
who have time to study his character, to watch the effect 
of the different influences brought to bear upon him in 
the formation of new habits ; and who have opportunities 

276 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap, XY. 

of gradually relaxing the system of discipline, and of 
trying the new powers of their moral patient to resist those 
temptations to which he would be exposed on his return 
to society. 

''No one thinks of sending a madman to a lunatic 
asylum for a certain number of days, weeks, or monthsL 
We content ourselves with carefully ascertaining that he 
is unfit to be at large, and that those in whose hands we 
are about to place him act under due inspection, and have 
the knowledge and skill which afford the best hope for his 
cure, and we leave it for them to determine when he can 
safely be liberated. 

"Those best acquainted with the subject know that 
between lunatics and criminals the difference is often but 
slight Perhaps it may be ultimately found by cautious 
experiment that a somewhat similar process may be safe 
and expedient in the treatment of criminals, and that 
while it is still left to the courts of justice to determine 
on the guilt or innocence of the accused, and on the 
necessity of their withdrawal from society, it may be 
assigned to those entrusted more or less directly with the - 
reformatory treatment to determine the time of release ; 
subject, however, to a most competent, well-appointed, 
careful, and responsible supervision and control such as 
ought to be invariably exercised in the case of mad- 
houses; and subject to the proviso that no amount of 
subsequent good conduct should be considered sufficient 
to warrant the liberation of a person who had ever been 
guilty of deliberate murder. 

'' It is perhaps natural that Englishmen should regard 
with a jealous eye the introduction of a power to subject 
any of their countrymen, however criminal, to an imprison- 
ment not limited, in the ordinary way, to a certain number 


of months or years ; and it is fitting that such a change 
should be gradual, and that its operation should be care- 
fully watched. The feeling from which such jealousy 
arises was manifested on the first creation of an efficient 
police ; yet no one now thinks of pointing to the police as 
the infringers of liberty — that is, as the infringers of the 
liberty of the peaceful and honest — for the more the liberty 
of the turbulent and dishonest is restricted the better ; the 
freedom of the malefactor being the bondage of the just 
And such, I am satisfied, would, in time, become the 
general feeling regarding an arrangement for securely 
detaining every offender, when once caught, until there is 
a rational prospect of his living honestly and peaceably. 
In truth, had this practice, so conformable to common 
sense, the advantage which the sanction of time and ex- 
perience causes, instead of having to contend with the 
hostile feeling attendant on novelty, any one who should 
propose to abandon such a system, and to enact that, 
without regard to an offender's moral condition, he should, 
at the end of a certain fixed period, be let loose again 
on society, would probably be regarded as little better 
than a lunatic." 

My brother Matthew adopted these opinions on 
the subject of the indeterminate sentence, and 
warmly advocated them in some of his charges as 
Recorder of Birmingham. The following passage 
is from a charge delivered in December, 1856 : — 

" Surely all who give themselves the trouble of mastering 
the subject, must feel that what we ought to aim at is, to 
prevent criminals once apprehended and convicted from 
being so placed as to have the power of offending again^ 

278 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. XV. 

until we have some proof that their dispositions and habits 
are changed for the better. And if the discipline of the 
gaol should fail to produce its intended effect, then is it 
not unquestionably right that the seclusion of the prisoners 
should continue even if it last for their lives ? 

"Ages ago this island was infested with wolves ; a dire 
calamity, as all conversant with the history of those times 
well know. What should we have thought of the sanity of 
our ancestors if, after giving a reward for each wolf caught, 
they had, when a certain number of months or years had 
elapsed, opened the dens and restored their wolves to 
liberty? And yet I am sure that you will feel that, as 
between wolves and burglars, the latter are by far the 
more dangerous beasts of prey." 

The importance of the principle of the indetermi- 
nate or indefinite sentence is now widely recognized. 
Mr. Havelock Ellis, in his preface to an "Account 
of the New York State Reformatory of Elmira," 
by Alexander Winter, F.S.S., writes — 

" The first step in the rational treatment of the criminal 
is the introduction of a bracing moral training. This can 
only be effected by means of what is called the indetermi- 
nate or indefinite sentence. To allow a man to stagnate 
in prison routine until a capriciously fixed day arrives, as a 
deus ex machina, to open the prison door, is the height of 
absurdity. The prisoner must win his freedom by his own 
exertions. Not until he has shown himself capable of 
living a fairly human life may he safely be liberated. It 
cannot be too frequently or too emphatically asserted that 
the indefinite sentence is the foundation of the rational 
treatment of the criminal. It is worthy of note that this 

i85c.] A FRUITFUL REFORM. 279 

has been recognized in the foundation of the International 
Association of Criminal Law, a society made up of crimi- 
nologists from all parts of the civilized world. Wherever 
that fundamental principle is neglected, the best prison 
system is condemned to hopeless routine and sterility. 
Wherever it has been introduced, stagnation is impossible." 

Again Mr. Havelock Ellis, in his able work 
entitled "The Criminal," writes of the indefinite 
sentence — 

" It has been adopted by several of the American States, 
such as Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kansas, 
and it was introduced at the famous State reformatory of 
New York at Elmira, by an Act passed in 1877. This Act 
took from the courts the power of definitely fixing the 
period of confinement in prisons until, in the opinion of 
the managers of the reformatory, they may be let out on 
parole for a probationary period of sik months. To an 
Englishman, Frederic Hill, belongs the honour of first 
suggesting this fruitful reform, the indeterminate sentence ; 
and his brother, Matthew Davenport Hill, vigorously 
supported the principle. In 1886, Garofolo — independ- 
ently, it appears — advocated indefinite imprisonment in a 
pamphlet entitled 'Criterio positiva della penalita,' pub- 
lished at Naples ; and in his great work, ' La Criminologie,' 
he wisely and consistently advocates the abolition of the 
definite sentence of imprisonment. In Germany it was 
advocated in 1880 by Dr. Kraepelin, a well-known authority 
on these matters ('Die Abschaffung des Straflfmasses,' 
Leipsig) ; and in 1882 Professor von Liszt, of Marburg, 
supported it with the weight of his authority. This fruit- 
ful reform, which sprang up almost at the same time, and 

28o FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. XV, 

with apparent spontaneity, among the Anglo-Saxon, Latin, 
and Teutonic races, although of such recent growth, needs 
little advocacy. It is so eminently reasonable that to 
state it seems sufficient to ensure its acceptance. When 
its advantages are generally known and realized it will 
undoubtedly spread in the same way that it has already 
begun to spread in the United States." 

In the prison of Elmira, already alluded to, I have 
always taken a deep and, I may say, a personal 
interest. Mr. Brockway, the founder of the insti- 
tution, still presides over it. Mr. Winter writes in 
his account of Elmira — 

" The institution, owing to the astonishing capacity for 
work and the vigilance of its originator and conductor, 
has been worked up from quite small beginnings, with a 
hundred and eighty-four inmates, to a physical, intellectual, 
and, above all things, a moral sanatorium of over a 
thousand inmates, unique of its kind in the world. This 
steady growth clearly shows what confidence the institution 
has won amongst the administrators of the law and in the 
opinion of the public by the satisfactory solution of the 
problem which it set itself to solve. ... In nearly all 
the states of the Union' Brockway's System has more or 
less contributed to a reform in legislation and in institutions 
for criminals in general. 

"... The success of the institution does not depend 
merely on a formal fulfilment of the law or of moral duties, 
but upon a power of discretion and judgment based upon 
a wide knowledge of the world and of men ; upon an 
entirely special study and understanding of the outward as 
well as the inward man. For this reason special care is 


observed always in New York in the election of members 
of the tribunal or board of managers. They are no retired 
military officers, but men from amongst the people — men 
who themselves know the struggle for existence, and who 
understand the problem, not merely theoretically, but prac- 
tically. On the other hand, no judge, or court of justice, is 
in a position to form a better or more trustworthy judgment 
of an offender, both in regard to the defects of his external 
and internal faculties, or to say when he is brought into a 
normal condition, than a man in the position of the general 
superintendent. Brockway is not only conductor of the 
establishment ; he lives amongst the inmates ; he lives and 
thinks with them, with each individual. Without suffering 
the discipline to be in the least relaxed, he is in close 
individual relationship to them, and, in the truest sense of 
the word, is at the same time friend, minister, and prison- 

" The reformatory is a compulsory school and training 
institution for its inmates. This compulsion, however, 
it must be understood, is only intended to arouse the 
individual, and to compel him by his own efforts to 
recognize and improve his defective faculties; and it 
depends exclusively and solely on the will, industry, and 
behaviour of the individual in question, whether and at 
what time he is promoted or liberated, or on the other 
hand degraded into the third or actual criminal grade. 
The regaining of his freedom is a prisoner's only aim 
and aspiration ; it is constantly before his eyes, and is a 
miraculous force that never ceases to impel him, and it 
is able to arouse the most insusceptible and dormant 
character." * 

* See " The Elmira Reformatory," by Alexander Winter, F.S.S., 
published by Messrs. Swana'suxd Sonnenschein (1891). 

282 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. XV. 

That the fear of an indefinite loss of liberty is 
the most powerful of all deterrents to the criminal 
at large, may be proved by the fact that American 
convicts will go down on their knees in the dock to 
implore the judge not to send them to Elmira. I 
learn this from my friend Mr. W. M. F. Round, for 
many years the corresponding secretary of the 
Prison Association of New York, himself an ardent 
worker in the cause of penal reform. 

The Elmira system of training the " will-power " 
of the prisoner, and inspiring him to aid in the work 
of his own reformation, is in accordance with prin- 
ciples advocated in my work on "Crime," as follows : 

" If a prisoner has been subdued merely by fear, and by 
a force not addressed to his reason, the probability is that, 
on the pressure being withdrawn, even for a short time, he 
will resume his old practices, and that with a fresh spirit of 
hostility and recklessness. So, also, if he has been treated, 
though not with harshness, yet like a child in leading- 
strings, without any cultivation of the powers of self- 
control, and still less those of virtuous self-action, although 
he may conduct himself in an exemplary manner in prison, 
and leave with a sincere desire thenceforward to live 
honestly and respectably, he will be so wanting in the 
power to provide for himself and to resist temptation, as 
probably soon to fall again into crime." 

Captain Maconochie, the zealous and able 
advocate of improved prison discipline, wrote in his 
book entitled " Crime and Punishment " — 


" If we look abroad into ordinary life, we cannot but be 
struck with the resemblance which our present forms of 
secondary punishment bear to everything that is most 
enfeebling and deteriorating, and how directly opposed 
they are to those forms of adversity which, under 
the influence of providential wisdom, reform character 
and invigorate it Slavery deteriorates; long seclusion 
deteriorates ; every condition, in a word, more or less 
deteriorates which leaves no choice of action, requires 
no notice but obedience, affords no stimulus to exertion 
beyond this, supplies the wants of nature without effort 
with a view to them, and restores to prosperity, through 
lapse of time, without evidence that such restoration is 

"What improves, on the contrary, is a condition of 
adversity from which there is no escape but by continuous 
effort, which leaves the degree of that effort much in the 
individual's own power, but if he relaxes, his suffering is 
deepened and prolonged, and it is only alleviated and 
shortened if he struggles manfully — which makes exertion 
necessary even to earn daily bread — and something more, 
prudence, self-command, voluntary economy, and the like, 
to recover prosperity." 

Captain Maconochie recommended that for 
sentences to a fixed period of imprisonment should 
be substituted sentences to a fixed amount of 
labour. This he proposed to measure by marks, 
and hence the name given to his system. These 
marks were not only to serve as the price of the 
prisoner's freedom, but as a means of obtaining 
various privileges, amongst others that of assisting 

284 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. XV. 

his family. In 1854 Captain (now Sir Walter) 
Crofton based his system of convict discipline upon 
this plan of Captain Maconochie's, adapting it to 
the provisions of the Penal Servitude Act, He 
brought the Irish prisons, as is well known, into 
a state far superior and widely different to those 
of England, introducing, besides reformatory treat- 
ment, graduated liberation. 

The principle of the Mark System is adopted at 

I have already referred to my observations on 
the connection between crime and insanity. Mr. 
Havelock Ellis remarks in the " Criminal '' — 

"Sometimes crime seems to be the method by which 
the degenerating organism seeks to escape from an insane 
taint in the parents. Of the inmates of the Elmira 
Reformatory, 499 — or 137 per cent. — have been of insane 
or epileptic heredity. . . . 

"We are now learning to regard the criminal as a 
natural phenomenon, the resultant of manifold natural 
causes. We are striving to attain to scientific justice. 
We are seeking in every direction to ascertain what is 
the reasonable treatment of the eccentric and abnormal 
members of society in their interest, and in the still higher 
interests of the society to which we belong." 

I quote again from my book — 

"By the abolition of revolting punishments and by 
confining the object of the statute to the protection of 


society and the cure of the offender, the propriety and 
reasonableness of the law would eventually become so 
evident that public feeling would be strong in its support,- 
and all unwillingness to give evidence would disappear. 
Thus nearly all parties in a court of justice would have 
the same object — the arrival at the truth ; instead of the 
hall of justice being degraded, as too often it is, into a 
kind of mental boxing-g^round, where witnesses are insulted 
and browbeaten, and where the prisoner, to his surprise, 
sometimes finds that any arts of trickery and deception 
which he may have practised are outdone by the well- 
dressed gentlemen around him, in their power of twisting 
evidence, distorting facts, and implying with well-feigned 
simplicity the truth of that which they know to be false. 

" As criminals, like other ignorant people, have generally 
great confidence in their good luck, any chance of escape 
of conviction much diminishes the fear of the consequences 
of their acts." 

And they are perfectly aware of the reluctance felt 
by juries to bring in a verdict which will produce 
a sentence of death. Were this penalty changed to 
that of life-imprisonment, murderers could no longer 
count on reluctance to convict, and "the excited 
interest now often shown in them, with all the delate 
romance, and heroism of crime, would fall to the 

Lord John Russell, when speaking on this 
subject, remarked — 

"When I consider how diflScult it is for any judge to 
separate the case which requires inflexible justice from 

286 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. XV. 

that which admits the force of mitigating circumstance, 
how invidious the task of the Secretary of State in 
dispensing the mercy of the Crown, how critical the 
comments made by the public, how soon the object of 
general horror becomes the theme of pity, how narrow 
and how limited the examples given by this condign and 
awful punishment, I come to the conclusion that nothing 
would be lost to justice, nothing lost in the preservation 
of innocent life, if the punishment of death were altogether 

In the same speech Lord John Russell alludes to 
the bad effect of public executions. They, happily, 
no longer exist, but the brutalizing effect of an 
execution is but diminished, not banished. The 
cheap newspapers carry the account of the final 
scene of disgrace and pain far and wide, and it is 
eagerly read by all who are attracted by baneful 
excitement. Mr. Havelock Ellis remarks in the 
" Criminal," " Perhaps the most powerful reason in 
favour of the probable disappearance of capital 
punishment is the humanizing influence that would 
be exerted on the community generally." 

In dealing with the argument so often used by 
those who uphold capital punishment, that it has 
a deterrent effect upon crime, I show in my book 
that it has, in fact, an entirely opposite effect 

" It must be remembered that an example of punish- 
ment is also a suggestion to crime, and that the greater the 


display of the first the more does the idea of the second 
fasten on the mind. It is notorious, as a general rule, 
that any act to which the public attention is powerfully 
attracted, whether it is a murder, a suicide, or other deed 
of an exciting kind, is likely to be followed by similar 
acts. In truth, there are always many people whose reason 
has so slender a control over their feelings, that no sooner 
is an idea connected with their strong predispositions 
forcibly presented to their mind, than the feeling becomes 
unconquerable, and it takes its course regardless of con- 

Public opinion against capital punishment seems 
to be gradually gaining ground. I have myself 
lived to witness great changes. Within my lifetime 
men were hanged for stealing five shillings' worth 
of goods ; and when Sir Samuel Romilly s Bill for 
the improvement of the criminal law and the aboli- 
tion of this monstrous evil was introduced into the 
House of Lords in 18 10, the Archbishop of Canter- 
bury, together with eight bishops, voted against it, 
as did also the Lord Chancellor, Ellenborough. 
The . latter, speaking in the name of the Bench 
generally, declared that no man's property woiild 
be safe if the measure were carried. It was not 
until the year 1826* long after the death of Sir 
Samuel Romilly, that his reform, brought forward 
now by Sir Robert Peel, was finally passed through 
Parliament and became law. 




Great Exhibition — ^Appointment at the General Post-Office — 
Last years of T, W, Hill's life — Law Amendment Society — 
" Friends in Council '' — Dr. Amott — Charles Dickens and 
the Money Order Office — ^A nautical Postmaster-GeneraL 

This year {1S51) was the year of the Great Exhibi- 
tion, the first Crystal Palace, in Hyde Park. My 
wife and I were present at a lecture delivered by 
my brother-in-law, Professor Cowper, in the build- 
ing on the completion of its erection. I will give 
a short extract from the account which appeared 
in the Illustrated London News for January 4. 
Grave doubts had been entertained whether the 
light iron pillars would be able to sustain the weight 
of the vast roof, 

"The last day of the year 1850, the one on which 
Messrs. Fox, Henderson, and Co., contractors for the 
building, were to have given up possession to the Royal 
Commissioners, was not inappropriately chosen for the 
private visit of the members of the Society of Arts, who 
collected together io large numbers to listen to Professor 


Cowper*s truly lucid explanation of the scientific con- 
struction of the Great Industrial Palace. 

"'Let us begin with the columns/ he said, 'which are 
not solid, as if of brick or stone, but hollow — that is, 
tubular ; and here science at once decides that this is the 
stiffest and strongest form for a given quantity of material. 
. . . Perhaps there are some critics present who, on look- 
ing at the columns of this building, may consider them 
weak ; let me, however, respectfully request of such critics 
to test their own power of judging of these columns by 
mentally estimating what these four quills — one inch in 
length — will bear.' (Here Mr. Cowper placed the four 
pieces of quill in a vertical position between two boards, 
the upper one being adjustable by hinges, and then placed 
weights on the upper board just above the quills until 
they reached 224 lbs.) This beautiful and conclusive 
experiment drew forth loud applause. 

"He concluded his lecture with these words: 'There 
is no doubt that when our friends from the Continent visit 
this splendid palace they will be perfectly astonished at 
the preposterous notion of retaining the trees within it I 
But they may learn a lesson from them, and that not an 
unimportant one. Some of our intending visitors have 
been amusing themselves of late years with planting trees 
of liberty, which withered and dried up, and were finally 
uprooted. Now, we are not a people very fond of emblems, 
but I look upon those trees as real trees of liberty ; they 
prove beyond doubt that we do not live under a despotic 
Government. The people — right or wrong — wished these 
particular trees to remain. A thousand trees were cut 
down in Kensington Gardens some years since, and not a 
word of complaint was uttered ; but John Bull had set his 
mind on these six or eight trees in particular, whether 



they spoiled the building or not; and there they are 
standing proofs of the attention the Government pays to 
his wishes. We might carry our imagination further, and 
say these trees represent the liberties and rights of various 
classes and opinions^ and all that is required is that each 
tree of liberty should be so pruned and trained as not to 
overshadow or injure its neighbour, while the magnificent 
arch above, like our glorious constitution, is comprehensive 
enough to include and protect them all/' 

In this year an important change in my official 
life took place. My brother Rowland greatly 
desired my assistance at the Post-Office. He 
writes in the " History of Penny Postage" — 

''I proposed that I should have as assistant secretary 
some one in whom I had entire confidence, and who would 
be able to take my place in my absence. My wish was 
to obtain the appointment for my brother Frederic. . . . 
Although he was able to accomplish a good deal (in his 
English district), he found among the country justices of 
the peace, who have the general charge of the county 
prisons, far more of vis inerti<B than he had encountered 
in Scotland. In the belief that in the Post-OflSce, in 
conjunction with myself, he should have a new and wide 
field for the exercise of his knowledge of the principles of 
government and his powers of administration, and that 
he should be able to render me effectual assistance, he 
was ready to accept an appointment, should it be made, 
as assistant secretary." 

This appointment was made, and I entered upon 
my new duties in the month of June. Amongst 


the kind and cordial letters which I received upon 
this occasion were letters from Lord Truro and 
Mr. C. P. Villiers, and also from many persons 
officially connected with prisons, from whom I 
took a reluctant farewell. It would have been 
impossible to me, however, to bid farewell to the 
subjects of prison discipline and the laws affecting 
criminology. By connecting myself with the Law 
Amendment Society, I was able still to work for 
reforms in these and kindred matters, with men of 
influence and power in the land. I also joined 
philanthropic bodies as they were started — such 
as the Metropolitan Discharged Prisoners' Aid 
Society, the Reformatory and Refuge Union, etc. 

I now finally settled my family at Hampstead, 
where my brother Matthew had lived for many 
years, and where my brother Rowland was also 
now settled. At Hampstead, too, were living my 
wife's eldest sister, Miss Cowper, and her near re- 
lative Mr. John Lepard, whose house had ever been 
a second home to our children. We were within 
easy reach of Tottenham, where my aged father 
lived, in the near neighbourhood of his sons Edwin 
and Arthur, who inhabited Bruce Castle. My dear 
mother had died in 1842, but my father lived to 
the advanced age of eighty-eight years. 

I must mention that in March, 1850, my sister, 


Caroline Clark, with her entire family, left England 
for South Australia. Her husband and herself 
desired a better climate for their children, two of 
whom they had lost by consumption. My nephews 
and nieces have visited England many times since 
then, but my sister and her brothers never met 
again, though a close and regular correspondence 
between us, till her death in 1877, kept the know- 
ledge of each other s interests unbroken. 

On Christmas Day, 1849, my father, then eighty- 
six years old, presided at a complete family gather- 
ing in the ancient hall of Bruce Castle, where we 
sat down to the Christmas feast, a party of fifty. 
My eldest daughter distinctly remembers this event, 
and the rush of all the little ones when their 
beloved grandfather inadvertently walked under 
the mistletoe. 

His sympathy with children may be seen in the 
following letter to my second little girl, who had 
sent him a birthday present: — 

*' Bruce Terrace, April 25, 1849. 

"My dear Leonora, 

"Your affection for me, which you show in so 
many ways, makes me quite happy. I thank you for your 
pen-wiper, and the more as you have made it yourself. 

" I thank you for your wish that I may live a * billion of 
years.' I am not sure whether you mean a French billion, 


that is a thousand millions, or an English billion, that is 
a million of millions. . . . But, my dear girl, I could 
hope to make your heart glad by assuring you that I have 
a confident, though humble, expectation of many more 
years of life than you have named or could name — not, 
indeed, in the present world, but in a world of far greater 
happiness than you and I can think of This hope I hold 
fast ^through a firm belief in the goodness of the great 
Creator. . . . That He may ever preserve you and yours 
is the earnest prayer of your affectionate grandfather, 

"Thos. W. Hill." 

Writing to my wife, he says — 

" Accept my sincere thanks for your thorough sympathy 
in all my feelings. Of these, thanks to the Author of 
my being, the vast preponderance is enjoyment I could 
wish for better sight and better hearing, but have so much 
to be grateful for that it is not without compunction that 
I turn so much as a thought on these lost possessions. 

"How happy, my dear daughter, are you in all your 
relations — children, husband, sisters, brothers I The 
children here are coming home ever and anon, delighted 
with lectures from our talented relative Mr. Cowper. 
Relative I call him, for we are all ingenious in tracing 
an alliance which it is an honour to possess." 

In March, 1851, my father became very ill, and 
the illness proved fatal. In a diary kept by me 
at the time I write — 

" May I. — Martha sat some time by my father, describing 
to him the ceremonies that were to take place at the 


opening of the Industrial Palace that day — ^the prayer for 
increased good will and intercourse between the nations ; 
and how the assembled multitudes, collected from so 
many nations, were to sing Hallelujah to the great 
Creator who had endowed them with the faculties that 
had produced this wonderful Exhibition of mind and 
talent. Tears, Martha said, rolled down his face as he 
ejaculated, * Thank God, thank God, for living to see this 
day I I cannot see this noble Exhibition with my actual 
vision, but to hear of it is a great blessing. This real 
peace-meeting ! I cannot join them with my voice, but I 
can in my heart. 

''All people that on earth do dwell, 
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice." 

I leave the world bright with hope. Never, surely, has 
God's government of the world been so clear as at the 
present period/ " 

He was gratified at thinking how many of his 
family and friends had assisted in the great 
work of the Exhibition, and had sent contributions 
to it. He spoke of Edwin's envelope-folding 
machine, and Julian's ventilating-pump ; of Follett 
Osier's crystal fountain, and Mr. Cowper's printing- 

On learning of my appointment to the Post- 
Office my father evinced much joy, and expressed 
his satisfaction that henceforth Rowland and I 
should be working together. 

One day, on the window of his bedroom being 

i85i.] '' SWEET WITH ETERNAL good:' 295 

opened, he composed some verses which he dictated 
to a friend. They commence thus — 

^^ Aura vent. 

Come, gentle breeze 1 come^ air divine ! 
Comfort this drooping heart of ipine. 
Ah, solace flows with Heaven's own breath, 
Which cheers my soul that sank in death. 
The works of God all speak His praise ; 
To Him eternal anthems raise." 

On the 1 3th of June, the day of my father's death, 
my diary records — 

" At half-past one, when Rowland, Martha, and myself 
were sitting near him, he took a hand of each of us 
in his, and, placing it near his heart, kissing it and point- 
ing upwards, with a radiant expression of intense love 
and happiness, was evidently contemplating a future 
meeting with us and all his family. 

** At about half-past eight my dear father expired without 
a struggle." 

I received many letters of sympathy upon the 
death of my father. Mr. Charles P. Villiers 
wrote — 

"I had only the pleasure of seeing him upon a few 
occasions, but I remember well the impression he made 
then upon me by the simplicity of his manner and the 
justice and intelligence of his observations. I learn from 
you with great satisfaction that he did, as his end was 
approaching, refer to me as one of those who felt an 
interest in the success and welfare of his family. He only, 
I assure you, justly appreciated my feelings." ^ 


An old pupil, Henry Sargant, wrote — 

" I am now merely putting into words what has been 
my opinion ever since I was capable of forming one for 
myself — that he was emphatically the best man I ever 
knew, of a constant, loving, noble nature." 

Mr. John Jones, the surgeon who attended my 
father through his illness, wrote to me — 

" Your father's death has deprived me of a dear and 
highly esteemed friend. It is thirty years since I first 
entered Hazelwood school, and with very little interruption 
I have kept up a close intimacy with the late Mr. Hill. I 
shall never forget the pleasant and instructive hours I have 
passed in his company. His energy of character, his 
enthusiasm, his hopefulness, his benevolence, were remark- 
able. He sympathized deeply with all that was good and 
true. Then what an intellect, what memory, what powers 
of reasoning I . . . For years I had loved him, but never 
so much as when he lay in placid resignation on his 

The Law Amendment Society was the initiator 
of many legal reforms. In this year (1851) it advo- 
cated improvements in the patent laws, putting an 
end to the very heavy legislative charge for every 
new patent, and substituting a moderate scale, 
especially for patents terminable (unless continued 
at the instance of the patentee) at the end of a few 
years. The Bill on this subject, which was ulti- 
mately carried through Parliament, was founded on 

i85i.] THE PATENT LAWS, 297 

the report of a committee of which I was a member, 
as was also Sir Frederick Bramwell. 

I was very desirous that the society should make 
a further recommendation to Parliament to appro- 
priate a certain sum of money for the purchase of 
any patent which the commissioners of patents 
might deem it expedient for the public to acquire, 
so as to admit the free use of an invention where it 
would be of service to the people at large. I so far 
carried the committee with me as to obtain the 
insertion in their report of a recommendation that 
a trial of my plan should be made. But this 
recommendation was not adopted by Parliament. 
Had it been adopted it would have put an end, in 
such cases, to the harassment of inventors from 
fraudulent attempts to invade their patents. From 
my personal acquaintance with Professor (afterwards 
Sir Charles) Wheatstone, who was largely concerned 
in the introduction of the electric telegraph, I knew 
this harassment to be so severe as sometimes to 
throw him upon a bed of sickness. 

Speaking of Professor Wheatstone, I may mention 
that he was a member of a small society of which 
my brothers Edwin and Rowland and myself were 
members. We used often to breakfast together 
for the discussion of various subjects, principally 
economic. Dr. Nield Arnott, Mr. Chadwick, Dr. 


Carpenter, and Mr. Wentworth Dilke were also 
members. The meetings of this little society, 
which, with the approval of Mr. Helps, we termed 
" Friends in Council," were to me, and I believe to 
all the other members, a source of much pleasure. 
Our most frequent house of meeting, by the pressing 
invitation of its owner, was that of Dr. Arnott, 
whose inventions are well known to the public. 

Dr. Arnott s friends, who knew his simple and 
kindly nature, were surprised at his remaining so 
long a bachelor. When he told me of his approach- 
ing marriage, I remarked that we had wondered why 
he did not marry long ago. His answer was, " / 
hadfit time ! " I believe, however, that the circum- 
stance admitted of a more romantic explanation. 

After their wedding Mrs. Arnott was duly 
ensconced in the doctor's house in Regent's Park, 
but she confided to Mrs. Rowland Hill that when 
she attempted to arrange her garments in the ample 
wardrobes which furnished the bedrooms, she found 
them filled already with stoves and other inventions 
of her husband s ! 

One of Dr. Arnott's first scientific exploits was 
accomplished when, as a young man, he held the 
post of surgeon on an East Indiaman. A violent 
storm off the coast of Africa put the vessel in danger, 
and the peril was increased by the fact that the 

From the portrait by Ellen C. /It'll. 


i85i.] ''ARNOTT'S PHYSICS."* 299 

captain's chronometer had got out of order. Happily 
the young surgeon had studied science with its appli- 
cations as well as the classics at Aberdeen University, 
and to the delight of the captain he was able to 
repair his chronometer. 

When Dr. Arnott wrote his book upon '* Natural 
Philosophy " his friends objected to its bearing such 
a title, in the fear that it might suggest to the public 
that his attention was not sufficiently fixed upon 
subjects strictly medical, which might injure him in 
his profession. To get over this difficulty he called 
his book " Arnott's Physics" 

When I first went to the Post-Office two mutual 
insurance societies in the London office, one called 
the " Widows' and Orphans' Annuity Society," the 
other the " Letter Carriers' Burial Fund," had fallen 
into difficulties owing to miscalculations in the rates 
of payments and premiums, and other causes. I 
was able to rescue them from their liabilities by 
inducing the Postmaster-General, Lord Clanricarde, 
who readily entered into my views, to ask the 
Treasury to grant us the appropriation of some of 
the " Void Order Fund," and some of the money in 
" dead letters," which amounted to a very large 
sum. With this money an insurance office of un- 
doubted stability, the " Atlas," was induced to take 
the Post-Office Societies' liabilities on itself. 


The Money Order Office was the first department 
placed under my charge. I was able to further the 
development of the system in various ways, and 
after a time introduced work by contract into one 
part of it. The head of this branch was entrusted 
with the selection of his own assistants and with 
fixing their pay, and for his own remuneration was 
allowed so much per thousand on all money orders 
issued or paid at the central office. By this arrange- 
ment, without the least sacrifice in the quality of the 
work done, an immediate saving was made of nearly 
half the cost 

Early in 1852 Charles Dickens came to inspect 
our " Money Order Office," and I had the pleasure 
of acting as his guide. He described what he saw 
in an article in Household Words for March 20 of 
that year, from which I now give a quotation. 
When I read this article I was astonished to find 
how many little incidents had impressed themselves 
on this distinguished writer's mind — incidents which 
had passed before me unnoticed, but of which I 
instantly recognized the truthful description. 

"The Central Money Order Office is in Aldersgate 
Street, hard by the Post-Office. It is a large establish- 
ment — large enough to be a very considerable post-office 
in itself. 

"The room in which the orders are issued and paid 

i852.] A CLOSE OBSERVER. 301 

has a flavour of Lombard Street. It has its long banker's 
counter, where clerks sit behind iron gratings with their 
wooden bowls of cash and their little scales for weighing 
gold, and vistas of pigeon-holes stretch out behind them. 
Here, from ten o'clock to four, keeping the swing-doors 
on the swing all day, all sorts and conditions of people 
come and go. Greasy butchers and salesmen from New- 
gate Market with bits of suet in their hair, who loll and 
lounge, and cool their foreheads against the grating, like 
a good-humoured sort of bears ; sharp little clerks, not 
long from school, who have everything requisite and neces- 
sary in readiness ; older clerks in shooting-coats, a little 
sobered down as to official zeal, though possibly not yet 
as to cigar divans and betting offices ; matrons who will 
go distractedly wrong, and whom no consideration, human 
or divine, will induce to declare in plain words what they 
have come for; people with small children which they 
perch on edges of remote desks, where the children, 
supposing themselves to be for ever abandoned and lost, 
present a piteous spectacle; labouring men, merchants, 
half-pay officers ; retired old gentlemen from trim gardens 
by the New River, excessively impatient of being trodden 
on, and very persistent as to the poking in of their written 
demands, with tops of canes and handles of umbrellas. 

"The clerks in this office ought to rival the lamented 
Sir Charles Bell in their knowledge of the expression of 
the hand. The varieties of hands that hover about the 
grating, and are thrust through the little doorways in it, 
are a continual study for them — or would be, if they had 
any time to spare, which assuredly they have not The 
coarse-grained hand which seems all thumb and knuckle, 
and no nail, and which takes up money or puts it down 
with such an odd, clumsy, lumbering touch; the retail 


trader's hand, which chinks it up and tosses it over with 
a bounce ; the housewife's hand, which has a lingering pro- 
pensity to keep some of it back, and to drive a bargain by 
not paying in the last shilling or so of the sum for which 
her order is obtained ; the quick, the slow, the coarse, the 
fine, the sensitive and dull, the ready and unready ; they 
are always at the grating all day long. Hovering behind 
the owners of these hands, observant of the various trans- 
actions in which they engage, is a tall constable (rather 
potential with the matrons and widows on account of 
his portly aspect) who assists the bewildered female public, 
explains the nature of the printed forms put ready to be 
filled up, for the quicker issuing of orders and the greater 
exactness as to names ; and has an eye on the unready 
one, as he knots his money up in a pocket-handkerchief, 
or crams it into a greasy pocket-book. 

" An Irish gentleman (who had left his hod at the door) 
recently applied in Aldersgate Street for an order for five 
pounds on a Tipperary post-office, for which he tendered 
(probably congratulating himself on having hit upon so 
good an investment) sixpence ! It required a lengthened 
argument to prove to him that he would have to pay the 
five pounds into the office before his friend could receive 
that amount in Tipperary." 

Lord Clanricarde was succeeded as Postmaster- 
General by the seaman, Lord Hardwicke, who 
brought nautical ideas to the Post-Office, and thought 
to inaugurate a sort of man-of-war's discipline 
therein! He directed that the *' clerk-in-waiting " 
at St. Martin's-le-Grand, when he took charge at 
4 p.m., should be duly informed that " Alts well,'' 

1 85 2.] ''ALUS WELL."" 303 

and that when he went off duty next day at 10 a. m. 
he himself should solemnly report, '' AWs welV / 

Lord Hardwicke, on beginning his reign, gave 
orders that all letters directed to the " Postmaster- 
General " should be reserved for himself to open. 
He consequently reached his rooms to find a 
gigantic pyramid of official communications, which 
the clerks, no doubt, had piled up in high glee! 
I believe that one day s trial of this arrangement 
quite sufficed his lordship ! 

304 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. XVn. 




Married Women's Property Bill — ^Letters from Mrs. Grote and 
Lady Byron — ^Various economic subjects — Postal reforms — 
Napoleon III. — Kossuth — Pulszky — Lords Canning and 
Elgin — ^Visit to Egypt — ^Work in Hampstead — Mrs. Hill — 
"Elmira" — F. Hill's opinions quoted during the prison 
labour struggle in the United States. 1 

The substance of the foregoing recollections was 
jotted down by my father from time to time, and 
put into my hands to edit three years ago, as I 
have already mentioned in the Preface. He has 
approved the additional matter which I have been 
able to introduce, owing to the discovery of con- 
temporary letters, diaries, etc. He now, at the age 
of ninety years, puts the pen altogether into my 
hands that I may briefly wind up the story of his 
life, and attempt some personal recollections of the 


"league of brothers," as they have been well 

To resume the narrative where my father left off. 
In 1854 an agitation was commenced to arouse 
public attention to the injustice of the existing laws 
respecting married women's property. Two ladies, 
Miss Barbara Leigh Smith and Miss Bessie Raynor 
Parkes,* published a pamphlet which gave "A 
Brief Summary in Plain Language of the Most 
Important Laws concerning Women, with a Few 
Observations thereon." Before its publication my 
father's eldest brother, the Recorder of Birmingham, 
examined it and vouched for its correctness. 

The attention of many persons being thus drawn 
to the subject, practical action followed. The Law 
Amendment Society took up the matter. Petitions 
were sent in to Parliament, and many men and 
women of enlightened views gave themselves up 
to work for the abolition of laws which, especially 
among the poor, were bringing about countless evils. 

My father was dealing with the subject at the 
Law Amendment Society. He writes, " I had the 
warm sympathy and active co-operation of my dear 
wife. She enlisted in the cause many women whose 
support gave it dignity and strength, such as Mrs. 
Jameson, Mrs. Fletcher, and Mrs. Grote." 

* Afterwards Madame Bodichon and Madame Belloc. 



I find my mother's name in the first list of female 
petitioners, which includes, besides those just men- 
tioned, the names of Harriet Martineau, Elizabeth 
Barrett Browning, Mary Howitt (secretary of the 
London Committee), Mrs, Cowden Clark, Mrs. 
Gaskell, Mrs. Carlyle, Lady Kay Shuttleworth, 
Mrs. Robert Chambers, etc 

Miss Barbara Leigh Smith, writing to my mother 
on matters of business connected with the petition, 
says, " Your letters are always thoroughly sympa- 
thizing, and do me good." Mrs. Grote's first letter 
is characteristic : — 

''Mrs. Grote has received the communication which 
Mrs. F. Hill wished Mr. Lewin to hand to her, and begs 
to assure that lady of the readiness with which she will 
append her signature to the accompanying petition when- 
ever it is judged advisable to put it round for that purpose. 
Few subjects have more occupied Mrs. Grote's mind and 
attention than the injustice practised towards women, 
especially in all that relates to property ; and she would 
feel further interested in the endeavour which is now 
making in favour of her sex, if the petition were so framed 
as to include a prayer that all kinds of property falling to 
married women, by bequest or otherwise, might be secured 
to them absolutely. And she would, further, wish to 
renounce on the part of married women that odious 
semblance of ' compensation ' called ' non-liability for 

"... Mrs. Hill may rely on Mrs. Grote's co-operation 


in the honourable efforts she is making whenever it suits 
her to invite it." 

Lady Byron writes to a member of the family — 

''It was a great satisfaction to me to learn from your 
letter that the Law Amendment Society had taken up a 
question which I think better left to generous-minded men 
than brought forward by women themselves. Whatever 
legislation may effect protectively^ I must rely more on 
education preventively. The use of one means should not 
set aside the use of the other." 

The Married Women's Property Bill met with 
much opposition and mutilation, and many years 
passed before the measure was carried. Still the 
attention of the public had been called to the in- 
justice of the existing laws, and legislative con- 
cessions gradually followed. It was not, however, 
until the year 1882 that the present law, which 
puts the husband and wife on an equality as regards 
property, finally came into being. 

Among other measures initiated by the Law 
Amendment Society, at which my father laboured 
as a member of its council, were the law of limited 
liability and a reform in the law of evidence ; the 
latter measure was strongly urged by Mr. Pitt 
Taylor (a member), in his well-known work on 
** Evidence,*' for admitting the testimony, for what 
it is worth, of the parties themselves, at that time 


Strictly excluded. So far as civil cases are con- 
cerned, the law was altered in accordance with 
Mr. Pitt Taylor's views ; but in criminal cases his 
recommendation has not been adopted in England, 
although it has been adopted in America. 

Some years later the Law Amendment Society 
was incorporated with the Social Science Associa- 
tion. At my father's suggestion the society took 
up the subject of labour and capital, and in 1870 
he was one of a band of lecturers who attempted 
to spread a knowledge of political economy with 
a view of preventing strikes and lock-outs. Pro- 
fessor Stanley Jevons, Dr. Hodgson, Mr. R. H. 
Hutton, and Professor Thorold Rogers were the 
other lecturers. My father's subject was the 
"Identity of Interests of Employers and Work- 
people." The following year, in a paper read at 
the congress of the association, after recommending 
industrial partnerships and lamenting the loss of a 
quarter of a million sterling in the Newcastle 
strike, he alludes to the efforts of the society to 
enlighten the public on these subjects by itinerant 
lecturers, paid or honorary, and regrets the want of 
financial support which crippled their undertakings. 
He concludes as follows : — 

" Let us hope that a practical people like the English 
will not allow matters of such momentous importance to 


drift about as chance may direct, but that they will make 
a vigorous effort to weed out error and implant truth ; 
so that gradually, yet surely, for waste and comparative 
poverty, may be substituted thrift and increased wealth ; 
and for discord, harmony." 

In 1872 my father came back to one of his old 
subjects, and wrote upon •* Prison Labour " for the 
International Prison Congress held in London. 
Other economic or political subjects engaged his 
attention. In 1878 he wrote upon "The County 
Franchise Difficulty : how Removable } " A quota- 
tion from Shakespeare given on the title-page 
sufficiently suggests his line of argument — 

"Take but degree away, untune that string, 
And, hark, what discord follows ! " 

He approved of the extension of the franchise 
to women, and worked for some years on the 
committee of the original society for promoting 
that object 

Such were the subjects at which my father 
worked in his leisure hours, and at which he has 
continued to work till within the last few years. 

At the General Post-Office a minute may be 
seen of the improvements which he introduced and 
carried. Many of these relate to the reorganiza- 
tion of routine business ; to improvements in the 
ventilation of the old Post-Office; the utilization 


of available space, which deferred the expense of 
building ; precautions against fire, etc. ; but some 
of them are of wider interest. In 1854 he made 
a suggestion, which was adopted, that an annual 
report should be submitted to Parliament by the 
Postmaster-General, This report he wrote him- 
self for fourteen years. He also suggested the 
quarterly publication of a Postal Guide. This first 
appeared in 1861, and its editing was superintended 
by him till his resignation in 1876. Later on he 
proposed the introduction of " Postal Notes,*' now 
called " Postal Orders," and although he did not 
succeed in inducing any Postmaster-General to 
introduce the measure, he was permitted in 1875 
by Lord John Manners (now Duke of Rutland) to 
take preliminary steps for its accomplishment. The 
measure was developed and carried after he had 
left the service. 

His introduction of the " Contract System " has 
already been alluded to. This he promoted 
especially in regard to the Packet Service; i.e. 
the conveyance of foreign and colonial mails, the 
management of which was transferred from the 
Admiralty to the Post-Office in i860. This 
Department was under his direction for seven 
years. By promoting open competition and the 
non-renewal of subsidies the efficiency of the service 


was largely augmented, producing a great increase 
of revenue together with a great decrease of ex- 
penditure. The details may be seen in the official 
records of the Post-Office, and also in Sir Rowland 
Hill's "History of Penny Postage." Into this 
branch of the service, as into all others under his 
direction, he carried the principles of free trade. 
Although he effected a considerable reduction in 
foreign and colonial postage, no arbitrary cheapen- 
ing of rates was ever inaugurated by him, but he 
laboured to give the public the greatest good for 
the least possible cost in a self-supporting service. 
In some private memoranda my father writes — 

*' With respect to the contract system I may state that 
my brother (Sir R. Hill) highly approved of its introduc- 
tion, and expressed it as his opinion that, if it were carried 
to the extent of which it was capable in the Postal Service, 
an annual saving to the country would result of probably 
not less than a quarter of a million sterling. Not my 
brother only, but the Right Honourable W. H. Smith, 
when Financial Secretary of the Treasury, expressed a 
favourable opinion of the contract system. 

" This system, it may be observed, is consistent with the 
practice of granting pensions after a certain length of 
service ; since that object can be obtained by the periodical 
retention of a small part of an officer's salary. 

"Another matter in which my brother and I agreed 
(indeed, I do not recollect anything in which we did not 
agree) related to the competitive examinations by the Civil 
Service Commissioners We regarded the introduction 


of these examinations into the Post-Office with much 
regret Their tendency, we were convinced, is to fill the 
ranks of the officers with mediocrity; mediocrity, that is, 
as regards the qualifications which are essential for zealous 
and efficient action. They are opposed to the great 
principle that those who are responsible for the success 
of any business should have the choice of its officers ; 
seeing that they have the greatest interest in a good 
selection, and possess the fullest knowledge of the qualifi- 
cations required. Had the acquisition of one of the dead 
languages been insisted upon in my brother's time for 
admission to the Post-Office, Rowland himself, the author 
of the greatest postal measure ever effected, would most 
certainly have been excluded. How long would a private 
firm, which allowed some other authority than their own 
to choose their clerks, keep out of the GazetU ? " 

Again writing of the Post-Office my father says — 

"By no alteration originating with myself was injury done 
to any existing officer; provision being always made to 
prevent this. And I believe the same may be said of the 
far greater alterations effected by my brother." 

During his long official life my father encountered 
those disappointments and frustrations in the accom- 
plishment of good which are more or less common 
to all who have " a great thing to pursue." This at 
times even caused his health to break down ; but, as 
his nephew, Dr Birkbeck Hill, writes, "he regarded 
the slightest approach to vindictive feeling as both 
wrong and foolish." In never letting "the pure 

1853-93.] A SELF-MADE EMPEROR. 313 

benevolence of his soul be for one moment clouded 
over by resentment/' he had the faithful assistance 
of his wife. No woman could be more keenly sen- 
sitive regarding her husband's interests than our 
mother, but she ever conquered her own feelings 
and cheered him by keeping his mind fixed on the 
good he had actually accomplished. But while our 
father met personal trials in this spirit, nothing could 
exceed his indignation and his readiness to do battle 
with those who oppress the weak, or who, by the 
pursuit of their own selfish ambition, " lower the 
standard of public morality." We have often been 
told that when Napoleon III. accomplished his 
coup cCitdt our father marched into Bruce Castle 
exclaiming to the assembled family, *' That scoundrel 
has done what I always said he would do ! " On 
April 19, 1855, my father wrote — 

" To-day there has been a grand procession to escort the 
Emperor Louis Napoleon to the Guildhall. Many of our 
officers went to the top of the Post-Office to witness the 
procession ; and I was asked if I would not go, but I re- 
plied that I had been so long an inspector of prisons that 
the sight of a rogue had ceased to be any novelty to me." 

Writing in later life of the events of this period, 

he says — 

" In a conversation which I had with Kossuth, who was 
brought to my house by our mutual friend Mr. Pulszky, 
I learnt that it was his intention to apply for military 


assistance to the French emperor. I endeavoured to dissuade 
him from doing so, reminding him that, by his acts, Louis 
Napoleon had shown that he was not to be trusted, and 
remarking that even if he promised to support the Hun- 
garian cause, he would be sure to abandon it whenever he 
thought it to his interest to do so. Unhappily, I did not 
succeed in altering Kossuth's intention. 

" When the boast reached my brother Matthew's ears 
that, in fighting against Austria for the liberation of Italy, 
'France went to war for an idea,* he remarked, 'Yes, for 
two ideas — Nice and Savoy.* 

" A few years later Monsieur Berrier, ' Batonnier * of the 
French Bar, was in England, and was present at a meeting 
of the Law Amendment Society. He made an eloquent 
and feeling speech, urging us 'to keep in its full blaze the 
torch which was burning so dimly in his own country — ^the 
torch of freedom both in law and politics.' " 

^ I well remember my father's regular attendance 
at the evening meetings of the Law Amendment 
Society. He used to talk to us children, even when 
very young, about his work there, and explain to us 
the reforms that he was assisting to promote. We 
always felt that we were giving up the pleasure of 
his company for a good cause. 

With a further view to our sharing in his interests 
and pleasures, he was in the habit of marking, and 
afterwards reading to us, passages in books or news- 
papers which he thought might interest us. This 
habit has remained unbroken. He wrote to my 
mother on May 27, 1852 — 

1853-93J HOME INFLUENCES. 315 

" In an article on ' Sir Roger de Coverley/ in the last 
number of the Quarterly Review— zxi article well worth 
reading — I came to this passage, of which I thought you 
would like to have a copy. It might be well to placard it 
in our nursery. *One swallow will not make a summer 
out-of-doors ; but one face invariably cheerful, one temper 
never ruffled, one heart always affectionate, makes a summer 
in a house.' " 

Happening to come upon this letter in recent 
years, my father had several copies made of the 
quotation, and gave them to friends who had families 
of children. One of these friends versified the lines 
as follows : — 

" * One swallow does not make a summer' — that is clear; 
But within the house to find 
One cheerful face and kind, 
One temper always sweet, 
One heart in love complete, 
Makes summer all the year." 

My father wrote in August, 1858, from Normandy, 
where he had taken his eldest daughter for her first 
visit abroad — 

" We met Mr. again at the chateau d'Arques. . . . 

What a charm there is in the manners of a true gentleman 
or gentlewoman ! Ease, refinement, self-respect without 
egotism, an evident desire to please, ready to converse, but 
ready also at the proper time to be silent How careful 
we should be, as I hope we are, to cultivate such manners 
in our children ! " 

It is impossible to do more than allude to a few 


of the men and women of mark that my father was 
acquainted with in his later official or private life. 
He knew Lords Canning and Elgin as Postmasters- 
General. He wrote of Lord Canning — 

"He showed me kind consideration, and was always 
ready to consider any measure which I thought would 

promote the public good/* 

And of his successor — 

r ''Every one who was acquainted with Lord Elgin must, 
I am sure, have regarded him with great esteem and 
respect. In his previous office of Governor-General of 
Canada he had done good service, and, in one of my con* 
versations with him, he told me that a treaty which he had 
there negotiated, between the EngUsh Government and 
that of the United States, was the only treaty he knew of 
which had not led to disputes. This he accounted for by 
observing that neither the American negotiator nor him- 
self had made any attempt to overreach the other, but 
that both had gone into the discussion with freedom and 

Intercourse was also renewed with the present 
Duke of Argyll, who had formerly sympathized in 
the work of prison reform in Scotland, and who 
became in turn Postmaster-GeneraL* 

♦ The late Duchess of Argyll, when Marchioness of Lome, 
obtained permission to become a regular visitor to the female 
prisoners at Inverary. In her application to ray father she said 
she desired to visit them **not as a patroness, but as woman to 

1853-93.] EARLY WALKS. 317 

At Hampstead my father and mother counted 
amongst their friends Mrs. Jameson, Mrs. Chisholm 
(the indefatigable promoter of emigration), Miss 
Mulock, and the Hungarian patriot Mr. Pulszky, 
with " his brave and admirable wife." Their Scotch 
friends did not forsake them. Mrs. Wigham visited 
Bellevue. Though now elderly, she shared her host's 
enthusiasm for early walks, and allowed him to take 
her to the top of Hampstead Heath at six in the 
morning to see the sun rise! John Hill Burton 
generally made his appearance unexpectedly, just 
as, in accordance with our early hours, the family 
was going to bed. He was said to divide his spare 
time, when in London, between ourselves and 

In 1870 my father bought a house in Thurlow 
Road, to which we removed, giving it the name of 
Inverleith House, after our old Edinburgh home. 

Upon retiring from the Post-Office, in 1876, my 
father paid a long visit to Egypt He was accom- 
panied by my eldest sister, and they stayed at 
Ramleh with my sister, Mrs. John Scott, and her 
husband, then a judge in the International Courts 
at Alexandria. My father followed his habits of 
early rising, and of taking long walks during the 
day, as regularly in the land of the Pharaohs as 
he did at home. A southern sun and burning 


sands had no effect upon him. Stories of his per- 
formances were repeated amongst our friends, and 
grew as they were repeated, till at last it was 
reported that he had walked the seven miles from 
Cairo to the Pyramids, made their ascent, and 
walked back, and all before breakfast ! 

His visit to his daughter and son-in-law intro- 
duced him to many of their friends, some of 
whom became valued additions to his acquaintance. 
Amongst these was General Gordon. 

It has been a great satisfaction to my father that 
his son-in-law, Mr. Justice Scott, has been in a 
position, both in India and Egypt, to carry on the 
work to which he himself had devoted his early 
manhood — the work of Penal Reform. 

After my father's official life ended he was 
haunted by a serious dread that he should have 
" nothing to do." I may truly say that from that 
day forward, never, for one half-hour, has such a 
misfortune befallen him. Besides his work at the 
various societies in London of which he was a 
member, he became a guardian of the poor in 
Hampstead, a Church trustee, and a member of 
charitable committees. He had assisted his friend, 
the Rev. H. F. Mallet, in starting the Hampstead 
Branch of the Charity Organization Society some 
time previously. 


The next subject which he took in hand was the 
improvement of the Vestry. He writes — 

" I found on inquiry that the election of the Vestry was 
in the hands of a mere handful of persons, the general 
body of ratepayers taking no part in it, and that many 
of the Vestrymen were unfit for their duties. Having 
consulted my friends Mr. Bond and Mr. Finch, we decided 
to take the matter up, and at the next election to try to 
secure the appointment of at least one thoroughly good 
man, in the expectation that such a member would at once 
obtain great influence. 

"Our intention having become public, at the next 
election a large number of ratepayers were present We 
succeeded in our object, and, by repeating the attempt for 
some years, we effected a great change in the character 
of the Vestry and in its proceedings." 

The following paragraph in the Pall Mall 
Gazette of December 29, 1887, is supposed to refer 
to my father : — 

"The assailant of the Vestries who signs himself 
' S. P. D.,' to-day makes a notable admission. He says, 
'I am happy to say that I know Hampstead and its 
Vestry, and if Hampstead were a sample of the rest of 
London, what a different place London would be 1 ' Now, 
why is Hampstead better than the rest of London ? It 
used to [be as bad as, or worse than, the other Vestries. 
The reason is that in Hampstead, some time ago, there 
arose one just man, in whom ciyic virtue was not extinct, 
who set himself deliberately and with religious purpose 
to revive a higher standard of municipal morality in 


his district. His success was marvellous. If forty just 
men like him were to be found in all London, all the 
Vestries would be like Hampstead, and then 'what a 
different place London would be!' But you must first 
catch your just man before anything can be done." 

In the month of February, 1882, my father 
planned and organized a public dinner in honour 
of the police force of Hampstead. Writing on 
this subject, he says — 

"My object was twofold: first to give a well-earned 
tribute of respect to our force, and next to set an example 
which I hoped would be followed elsewhere. I was also 
desirous of showing the detractors of the police in general 
that their statements and opinions met with no response 
in the respectable part of the population." 

The appeal for subscriptions met with so cordial 
a response, that after paying all expenses the com- 
mittee were enabled to hand over to the directors 
of the Police Orphanage more than a hundred 
pounds. My father's old friend, Mr. James 
Marshall, J. P., took the chair, Colonel Henderson 
attended, and the whole proceeding went off most 
satisfactorily. Shortly afterwards a similar tribute 
was paid to the police of Kilburn, 

My mother had not my father's bodily strength 
to enable her to undertake regular charitable or phi- 
lanthropic work. But her help and sympathy were 
ever ready for those who could work — especially 


I I 



in any matter connected with children. Her 
own grandchildren were a source of constant 
delight to her. She followed the school-life of the 
eldest into every detail, and inspired him with her 
love of natural history. 

To the end of her life she maintained the 
strong interest which she had shown in the first 
years of her marriage with the erring and unfortu- 
nate members of the human family. In 1878 she 
wrote a paper for the Prison Congress at Stock- 
holm on " Prison Discipline." She took a keen 
interest in the New York State Reformatory of 
Elmira. The letters and papers respecting it 
which she received, lay on her bed within a few 
days of her death, in 1887. Her portrait, as well 
as that of my father, hangs on the walls of Elmira. 

It is remarkable that my father is not the only 
survivor of those connected with the first establish- 
ment of inspectors of prisons in 1835. His former 
colleague, Dr. Bissett Hawkins — also a nonagena- 
rian — refreshes old memories by exchanging 
letters with him once a year; and the Right 
Honourable Charles P. Villiers, the " Father of the 
House of Commons," who promoted my fathers 
appointment, is still able, although his senior, to 
engage in public duty, and retains his warm feelings 
towards the Hill family. 

ft 21 


My father has always taken a lively interest in 
the extensive work of his friend Mr. W. M. F. 
Round, corresponding secretary of the Prison 
Association of New York, of whom mention has 
already been made. In the autumn of 1888 the 
prison system of that State received a severe blow. 
A reactionary party, the so-called " Labour Re- 
formers," carried the election of a man as Governor 
of New York under whose rule the " Yates Prison 
Bill " was passed, which put an end to all productive 
labour in prisons. 

Mr. Round writes to my father on October 7, 

" The infamous ' Yates Bill,' which we thought we had 
killed, but which was passed in an extra session of our 
New York Legislature, has thrown our whole prison 
system into chaos. . . . We know that under its opera- 
tion the prisons will become a burden to the people such 
as they have never had to bear before, and crime will 

A great struggle now began for the repeal of the 
" Yates Bill." Mr. Round again writes — 

"I should be very glad if you would permit me to 
publish that part of your letter of August 29, in which 
you have most wisely referred to the operation of the Bill 
in the Elmira Reformatory. . . . You will see that I ven- 
tured to quote your opinions in the Herald^ and have done 
so again in my ' Princeton ' article." 

1853-93] A VICTORY, 323 

In a letter dated January 28, 1889, he describes 
the severe and unremitting contest into which he 
entered to obtain the passing of a "reasonable 
Prison Bill " — a contest which we found afterwards, 
in its strain upon his health, had nearly cost him 
his life. He goes on to say — 

" I am trying with all my ingenuity to make it possible 
to run over to England this spring, and one of the prin- 
cipal motives is a desire to take in fresh draughts of 
inspiration from your counsel and enthusiasm." 

Three months later the repeal of the "Yates 
Bill *' was carried. I learn from Mr. Round that he 
quoted my father's opinions in support of produc- 
tive prison labour before the Judiciary Committee 
of the Legislature of New York. He wrote to 
him on April 25, 1889 — 

"We passed to-day, in the Legislature of New York, 
an ideal Prison Bill, which provides for classification and 
much else that is good — a considerable extension of the 
Elmira plan — and makes a prison system of which any 
country may be proud. Your words to me have helped in 
this battle, by which we have won a victory of justice over 
political chicanery. I am almost ready to sing my ' Nunc 
dimittis.' You have fought many such battles, and you 
know how I feel." 




Anecdotes of the "league of brothers" — Edwin Hill and his 
contrivances — Likeness between Arthur Hill and his brother 
Frederic — His memory — Rowland Hill at Bellevue — Matthew 
Davenport Hill at home—Conclusion. 

My father has had occasion to speak more 
frequently of his brothers Matthew and Rowland, 
owing to their work being of a public kind, than 
of his brothers Edwin and Arthur; but enough 
has been said of these latter to suggest their 
leading characteristics. 

For thirty years his brother Edwin held the 
office of Comptroller of the Stamp Department 
at Somerset House, where his mechanical talents 
came into play. His many contrivances are amus- 
ingly described in the Daily News of November 3, 
1871. The writer of an article, entitled "Under 
Somerset House," says — 

"Once fairly underground, and it is as if we were in 
the cave of an amiable magician. Doors open of their 
own accord ; stamps of fabulous value are created out 


of waste-paper by a wave of the hand ; wooden arms and 
limbs are moved by unseen agencies, and classify docu- 
ments with inconceivable rapidity and unfailing exacti- 
tude. Bundles of valuable deeds . . . walk gravely into 
the room unaided, and present themselves silently to be 
stamped. Other mysterious contrivances for lessening 
human labour abound . . . ingenious inventions of the 
Comptroller of the Stamping Department" 

Here his "wind-proof doors" were first used. 
He set his ingenuity to work in their invention 
for the sake of a rheumatic porter at the Wellington 
Street entrance. 

My uncle's bedroom was a museum of curiosities, 
affording much amusement to all who were allowed 
to inspect it. A network of cords stretched across 
the bed-head and ceiling. If at night the blankets 
pressed upon him too heavily, he could, as he lay, 
pull a string, with a sort of claw at the end, which 
grasped the bedclothes and relieved him of their 
weight. Again, if he awoke early and wanted to 
know the time, he could pull a cord which opened 
the shutter to admit the light, and by pulling 
another cord he could shut it again, and so on ! 

His work on currency has been spoken of 
already. Other economic questions interested him. 
He wrote papers on "Criminal Capitalists" and 
analogous subjects for the National Congress on 
Reformatory and Penitentiary Discipline held at 


Cincinnati in 1871, and also for meetings of the 
British Association and the Social Science Associa- 
tion. In these papers he maintained that criminal 
enterprise requires capital for its development as 
much as honest labour, and that if those who 
harbour criminals and receive stolen goods were 
effectively dealt with by the law, theft and burglary, 
as an organized business, must fall to the ground. 
A simple illustration of the truth of this position 
may be seen in the fact that burglaries are little 
feared in country places or at the seaside, where 
it is difficult to dispose of loot. 

My uncle Edwin had a most kind heart, as may 
be guessed from his care for the rheumatic porter. 
He carried his sympathy for pain or discomfort 
to an extreme point. When his children were 
young, and complained of a tight frock or an uneasy 
shoe, out came his penknife to remedy matters 
by a good slit ! He was as simple as " Dominie 
Sampson " with regard to his own clothes, and his 
wife managed their renewal in much the same way 
as that recorded in the case of the " Dominie." 
When her husband's black velvet waistcoat, or any 
other garment, was getting shabby, she took it 
away overnight and put a new one in its place, 
the metamorphosis remaining alike undiscovered ! 
One hot summer day my uncle Edwin was 

1853-^3.] A COOLING PROCESS. 327 

walking in Kensington Gardens, absorbed in argu- 
ment, with his brothers Rowland and Frederic. 
A gardener happened to set down a pail of water 
within his reach. To cool his feet he put first 
one leg into it and then the other, gesticulating and 
arguing all the time, while the gardener stared in 
amazement ! 

He was especially fond of arguing upon his 
favourite subject, which his old friend Mr. Kerr of 
Glasgow called "that infernal currency;" but his 
mind turned also to a very different enjoyment. 
The same friend said of him that "he was aston- 
ished at the correctness of his memory in quoting 
passage after passage of poetry, and at the almost 
girl-like ardour with which he recited them." 

I have myself a vivid recollection of his repeating 
to us Mrs. Barbauld's hymn, "Come! said Jesus' 
sacred voice," and of the deep feeling with which 
he gave the lines. 

Of all his brothers, Arthur most resembled my 
father in personal appearance, in character, in 
sentiments, and even in the habits of daily life. 
The personal likeness between them was so great 
at one time as to cause my father to absent himself 
from gatherings of old pupils at Bruce Castle, owing 
to the inconvenience of being mistaken for the 
head of the school. 


My father wrote of this brother, " I have never 
known any one who had a greater demotion to 
duty than Arthur. Let him be but convinced that 
duty marshalled him in a certain direction, and no 
obstacle could deter him from moving onwards." 
We have heard it related that the very day after 
the death of his young wife he took his place 
in the schoolroom, supported by the reverent 
behaviour of his sympathizing pupils. 

Both these brothers laid down strict rules for 
their daily conduct. These included rising for a 
very early walk, regardless of weather, taking 
exercise at regular intervals throughout the day, 
and being abstemious in their food. Wine they 
took only when ordered to do so by their " medical 
adviser." Brandy-and-water being prescribed for 
my uncle Arthur when he was an octogenarian, he 
refused to have sugar in it, "lest he should grow 
to like it"! Both strongly disapproved of the 
Game Laws, and in consequence never ate game. 
Both felt repugnance to see women engaged in 
heavy bodily work, and each in his own house 
assisted the female servants in such acts, among 
others, as carrying up the filled coal-scuttles. The 
lives of both brothers were patriarchal in simplicity, 
and yet both entertained a fear, often expressed, 
of becoming " fastidious " and " luxurious " ! 

Ft-ont the portrait by liHeu (>'. /////. 

loidon: nichand ■ENTLCr « BON. ia»« 


My uncle Arthur injured his eyesight, during 
the struggles of early life, by working at the 
acquisition of Greek, in addition to his long day's 
labour as a teacher. He thenceforward set himself 
to lay up in his memory a store of matter which 
he might turn to for mental food when unable to 
use his eyes. His knowledge of Shakespeare was 
remarkable. He often had as many as five whole 
plays " by rote " at the same time, either of which 
he could recite without reference to the text, though 
the well-used volume was drawn from his pocket 
and placed within his reach. One of my earliest 
recollections of this beloved uncle is hearing him 
recite Coriolanus in our parlour at Bellevue when 
I was a very little girl. His dramatic power was 
great, and all the characters he represented seemed 
to live and move before us. It was, of course, 
only in after-years that I could appreciate this 
great power. Some idea of it may be given 
by saying that his rendering of the character of 
" Rosalind," in spite of every disadvantage of a 
man's voice and outward appearance, remains, and 
ever will remain, unrivalled in our memory. I last 
heard him recite scenes from As You Like It when 
he was an old man past eighty. A large green 
shade was over his eyes, he wore fleecy gloves 
and felt top-boots to keep out the cold of a 


winter's evening, and screens were arranged to 
protect him from the glare of lamps and fire ; but 
as soon as his lips opened everything that we 
looked upon vanished, the forest of Arden appeared, 
and Rosalind, in all the charm of youth and beauty, 
stood before us ! 

Perhaps the most remarkable feat of memory 
achieved by my uncle was when, in his eighty-fifth 
year, he translated Horaces " Ars Poetica." He 
knew the long Latin poem by heart, and translated 
it line by line during wakeful hours at night. He 
retained his translation in his mind, and dictated 
each portion, the following morning, to his faithful 
friend and sister-in-law Miss Maurice. 

A member of Parliament who used to visit him, 
in company with Mr. Justice Scott (an old Brucian), 
expressed his astonishment at "Mr. Arthur Hill's 
wide and exact political memory." 

The recollection of the talks with him as we 
walked up and down the long passage at Bruce 
Grove, where he took his regular exercise, is a 
precious possession. His sympathy was ever keen 
with young and old, and his nature ardent with 
enthusiasm or righteous indignation to the last. 
His "ripe wisdom," as a humble friend described 
it, has helped many a one in the difficulties of life. 

My uncle Rowland was less known to the 

J853-93.] THE HEAD OF THE FAMILY. 331 

younger members of the family than his brothers, 
owing to his delicate health and absorbing occupa- 
tions, but among our recollections of childhood we 
have pleasant memories of his sympathy on more 
than one occasion. He took a special interest in 
the little plays which we wrote and acted, and 
came with our aunt to witness their performance. 
We always prepared a seat of honour for him, 
adorned on one occasion with a gigantic " penny 
postage stamp" of our own painting. He also 
took an interest in my eldest sister's artistic efforts, 
remembering, no doubt, his own boyish successes 
in that direction. 

My eldest uncle, Matthew, ever held the honoured 
position of head of the family. As my sisters and 
I grew old enough to pay visits we were invited, 
by the kindness of our aunt and cousins, to their 
beautiful home at Stapleton, where we saw much 
of him, and were proud that he liked to have us 
with him. Later on these invitations were ex- 
tended to my sister Nora s husband, then a young 
barrister, for whom he had a special liking. 

Speaking of this uncle, Dr. Birkbeck Hill 
writes — 

"One of the brothers had by nature a hot temper. 
He was as a boy 'jealous in honour, sudden and quick in 
quarrel.' He was the first of them 'deliberately and 

332 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. XVm. 

seriously to adopt the maxim that treats all anger as 
folly. . . . Having arrived at a principle, and that while 
yet a youth, he strove earnestly and with great success to 
reduce it to practice.' " 

In his advanced age the internal fire only burned 
brighter and stronger for this self-conquest It 
was never fed by paltry or personal wrongs, but 
by the great wrongs of mankind, which to the 
end of his life he set himself to combat and 

His youthful enthusiasm, his wide literary know- 
ledge, his racy anecdotes and witty sayings, were a 
delight to us, his nieces, and made a stroll with 
him up and down the green terrace at Heath 
House a coveted treat. 

In appearance he was more portly than his 
brothers. My aunt, Mrs. Baines, used to say of 
him, " I like his broad waistcoat ; it is as large as 
his heart ! " We remember his fine sonorous voice 
as he read the lessons in church, and, on one oc- 
casion, his reading at home the second chapter of 
the Book of Joel, while his deaf wife sat by him, 
holding his hand and following the text. 

Between my uncle Matthew and my father there 
was necessarily strong sympathy, each having at 
heart the same subject of Penal Reform. As is 
well known, my uncle turned his mind especially to 


the juvenile delinquent, for whose redemption he 
accomplished so much. 

Dr. Birkbeck Hill writes of the Hill brothers — 

" As they trusted each other for aid in case of need, so 
at all times did they look to each other for counsel. The 
affairs of all were known to each. At every important 
turn each sought the judgment of all. . . . This curious 
league of brothers was due to many causes. From child- 
hood they had been steadily trained up in it by their 
parents. They had long lived together under the same 
roof. Each had a thorough knowledge of the character 
of all the rest, and this knowledge resulted in a thorough 
trust They had all come to have a remarkable agreement 
on most points, not only of principle, but also of practice. 
The habits of one, with but few exceptions, were the habits 
of all. He who had ascertained what one brother thought 
on any question would not have been likely to go wrong 
had he acted on the supposition that he knew what was 
thought by all." 

Indeed, the Hill brothers' similarity of tastes as 
well as of opinions was a subject of pleasantry 
with the younger generation. At one of the merry 
Christmas gatherings at Bruce Castle, a plot was 
laid to inquire privately of each brother which of 
Sir Walter Scott's novels he preferred. All five 
answered, " Old Mortality " ! 

Dr. Hill goes on to say — 

"They were all full of high aims — all bent on 'the 
accomplishment of things permanently great and good.' 

334 FREDERIC HILL. [Chap. XVin. 

There was no room in their minds for the petty thoughts 
of jealous spirits. Each had that breadth of view which 
enables a man to rise above all selfish considerations. 
Each had been brought up to consider the good of his 
family rather than his own peculiar good, and to look 
upon the good of mankind as still higher than the good 
of his family." 

In a notice upon the death of Thomas Wright 
Hill, which appeared in the Spectator for June 21, 
1 85 1, it is remarked — 

" All the brothers, like their father, are publicly useful 
men ; and by a sort of confederacy of talent, accordance 
of opinions, and unity of sentiment, strengthen each other 
in their several departments." 

Their father's words, written to his son Frederic 
in 1842, have been verified: "The union of my 
children has proved their strength." 


Abbotsford, visit to, 199-201 

Abbott, Mr. Justice, 52 

Abercromby, James. See Lord Dun- 

Aberdeen, Lord, 181, 232 

Adam, Jean (author of ** There's nae 
luck about the house ")i 207, 208 

Agnew, Sir Andrew, 170, 171 

Ainslie, Daniel, 231 

Ainslie, John, 231 

Albert, Prince, 232, 234 

Alison, Dr., 157, 195, 204, 218 

Anderson, Mr. and Mrs. (of Jamaica), 
205, 206 

Argyll, Duchess of (the late), 316 

Argyll, Duke of, 316 

Amott, Dr. Neil, 143, 297-299 

Amott, Mrs., 298 

**Amott*s Phy.ics," 299 

Ascension Island, 54 

Ashford, Mary, murder of, 39-41 

Attwood, Thomas, M.P., President 
of Birmingham Political Union, 
77, 80, 82, 83, 85, 87, 90-92, 98- 


Babbage, Charles, 176 
Baillie, Joanna, 109 
Baines, Edward, M.P., 115 
Baines, Mrs. E. M., 332 
Balloon, ascent of, 31, 32 
Barbauld, Mrs., *' Hymns in Prose," 

27; ''Master and Slave,*' 248; 
hymn, 327 

Baring, Sir Francis (Lord North- 
brook), 236, 238 

Baskerville House, defence of, 1 1 

Bell, Lady, 194 

Bell, Sir Charles, 301 

Bentham, Jeremy, 49-51 

Berrier, Monsieur (" Batonnier " of 
the French Bar), 314 

Berwick railway opened, 246 

Bethune, Alexander, 205 

Bethune, John, 205, 210 

Birmingham, head-quarters of Reform, 

Birmingham Heath, 3i« 38 

Birmingham Political Union, 77-100 

Birmingham Riots, 9-14 ; contempo- 
rary letters, 11-14 

Blair, Dr., 55, 56 

Board of Directors of Prisons for 
Scotland established, 181, 182 

Bond, £.,319 

Booth, coiner, 38, 39 

Boulogne, visit to, 60, 61 

Bramwell, Sir Frederick, 297 

Brebner, Mr., 132, 258, 259 

Brechin Castle, 167 

"Bride of Lammermoor," 148, 149 

Bright, John, 112, 268 

Brock, Daniel de Lisle, 63, 65 ; letter 
from, 84 

Brockway, Z. R. (founder of the 
Elmira Reformatory), 280, 181 

Brodie, Mrs., 251 

Brodie, William, 250-252 



Broglie, Due de, 63 
Brotherton, J., M.P., 115 
Brougham, Lord, 20, 58, 59, 72, 73, 

81, 82, 105 ; on Mrs. Fletcher, 137 ; 

supports Postage Bill, 192 
Brown, Dr. John, 158 
Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 306 
Bruce Castle, 113, 291, 327 
Buchanan, Mr., 251 
Buonaparte, Napoleon, 35, 36 
Burdett, Sir Francis, quoted, 46 
Burgh Reform, 137, 166 
Bums, Robert, 213-217 
Bums, widow of, 215, 216 
Burton, John Hill, 157, 251 ; letter 

from, on ** National Force," 267, 

Burton, Mrs., 251 
Bute, Marquis of, 229, 230 
Butterworth, Joseph, M.P., 45 
Byron, Lady, 109 ; letter from, on 

Married Women's Property Bill, 


Cameron, Miss, daughter of Provost 

Cameron, 196 
Cameron, Mrs. (of Dingwall), 197 
Cameron, Provost, 166, 167 
Campbell, Lord, 171 
Campbell, Mr. (of Menrie), 230 
Campbell, Thomas, 51, 53 
Canning, Lord, 316 
Capital punishment, 173, 284-287 
Carlyle, Mrs., 306 
Carlyle, Thomas, 317 
Carney, Miss Helen, 159, 161 
Cartwright, Major, 45 ; trial of, 46, 47 
Catholic Emancipation, 75 
Chadwick, Sir Edwin, 297 
Chalmers, Dr., 228-231 
Chambers' Joumal, 73, 149, 210 
Chambers, Miss Janet. See Mrs. 

Henry Wills 
Chambers, Mrs. Robert, 149, 211, 

Chambers, Robert, 149, 210, 211, 


Chambers, William, 146, 149, 152, 
189, 210, 211 

" Cheap-jack," a, 264, 265 

Chevalier, Monsieur, 60, 61 

Chisholm, Mrs., 317 

Cholesbnry, 105-107 

Christian Knowledge, Society for the 
Promotion of, 73 

" Church and King," 10, 13, 17, 58 

Clanricarde, Lord, 299, 302 

Clarendon, Lord, 51 

Clark, Caroline («^ Hill), 26, 47 ; 
leaves England to settle in Sout 
Australia, 291, 292 

Clark, Edmund, 32, 33 

Clark, Francis, 243 

Clark, Mr., K.C., 58, 59 

Clarke, Mrs. Cowden, 306 

Cobden, Richard, 112, 113, 236, 247, 

Cockbura, Lord, 136 ; quoted, 137, 
'38* I39">4i * sa^ves Princes Street 
Gardens, 141, 144; quoted, 227, 
228, 231 

Collins, Mr. (American delegate from 
Anti-Slavery Society), 20$, 206 

Combe, Dr. Andrew, 155, 156 

Combe, George, 155, 156, 210, 248, 

Combe, Mrs. George, 155, 156, 249 

Competitive examinations for en- 
trance into Civil Service, 311, 312 

Constant, Benjamin, 62, '63 

Contract System, 300, 310-312 

Corn Laws, freedom from, in Guern- 
sey, 65 ; agitation for Repeal of, 
III, 112; Lord Melbourne on, 
113; Bill passed in House of Lords, 

Cowper, family of, 74, 188 

Cowper, Martha. See Mrs. Frederic 

Cowper, Miss, 291 

Cowper, Professor, his printing ma- 
chine, 74, 188, 189; lectures at 
the Royal Institution, 189, 190 ; 
letter from, describing interview 
with Maria Edgeworth, 233-235; 



lecture on construction of the 
Crystal Palace of 1851, 288-290, 


Crawford, Mr., 255 

Crofton, Sir Walter, 284 

Cromek, R. H., 207-209 

Crowe, Mrs. (author . of " Susan 

Crystal Palace of 185 1, 288-290^ 293, 

Cunningham, Allan, contributions to 
the "Nithsdale and Galloway 
Songs," 207-209; Mrs. Fletcher's 
first acquaintance with, 209, 210 

Custom-house persecutions, 67 

D'Argenson, le Marquis Voyer, 63, 

Davenport, Mrs., 14, 15 

Davy, Dr., 207 

Davy, Mrs., 207 

De Quincey, Thomas, 51, 53 

Dickens, Charles, account of visit to 
Money Order Office, 300-302 

Diffiision of Useful Knowledge, So- 
ciety for the, 72, 73 

Dilke, Wentworth, 298 

Distress, widespread in 18 16, 42 

Douglas, Frederick, 152, 247, 248 

Doun, did bridge of, 216 

Duelling, 74, 75 

Dunfermline, Lord (James Aber- 
cromby. Speaker of the House of 
Commons), his election as member 
of first Reformed Parliament, 135, 
136, 141 ; on Peel's character, 142, 
143, 219, 220 


East India Company, tea monopoly 

abolished, 28 
Edgeworth, Maria, "Parent's Assis- 

Unt," 26, 27, 54 ; *• Forester," 55 ; 

is interested in the << Parents, 
Cabinet," 191, 195 ; conversations 
with Professor Cowper, 233-235 

Edinburgh, 119; society in, 134-164 

Edmonds, Geoi^e (chairman of Bir- 
mingham Hampden Club), 43-45, 
90, 97, 98 

Elgin, Lord, 316 

Ellenborough, Lord, 52, 53, 287 

Ellis, Havdock, quoted, 278-280, 

Ellis, William, 190 

Ellis, Mrs. William, 190 

Elmira, New York State Reformatory 
of, 278-282, 284, 321, 322 

Esdaile, Mr., 211, 212 

" Family Fund," no, ill 

Faraday, Profcbsor, 189 

Fenning, Eliza, trial and execution 
of» 51* 52, loi, 102 

Feiguson, James, 197 

Feigusson, Sir Adun, 145, 146-148 

Ferrers, Lord, trial of, 3, 4 

Fife, Lord, 165, 166 

Finch, Rev. Gerard, 319 

Fletcher, Archibald, 136, 137 

Fletcher, Mrs., witnesses first return 
of Edinbuigh members for Re- 
formed Parliament in 1832, 135, 
13^ I37f i<^ 195 ; account of Jean 
Adam, 207, 208 ; acquaintance with 
Allan Cunningham, 207-210, 305 

" Forestalling and regrating," 38 

Fox, Charles James, 167 

Free Kirk, secession of, 227-231 

" Friends in Council," 297, 298 

Frost, long, of 1813-14, 29 

Fry, Elisabeth, at Newgate, 1 16, 1 17 ; 
letter from, 118; on Scotch gaols, 
120, 121 ; letter from, to W. Allen, 

Fullerton, Mrs., 207, 208 




Garrison, William Lloyd, 152, 205, 

Gaskell, Mrs., 306 
Gibson, Milner, 268 
Gillies, Lord, 158, 163 
Glasgow Bridewell, 132, 184, 185, 

Gordon, I>r., 2jo 
Gordon, General, 318 
Goolbum, Mr., 238 
Graham, Sir James, 232, 241 
Graham, Miss Stirling, 157 ; •* Mysti- 
fications," 158; Sir Walter Scott 

on, 158 ; her visit to Mr. Jeffrey, 

Great Exhibition. See Crystal Palace 

of 1851 
Grey, Earl, 79, 81, 84, 87, 90, 97, 99, 

Grote, George, 51 
Grote, Mrs., 51, 305 ; letter from, on 

Married Women's Property, 306, 

Guernsey, Island of, social condition 

of, 63-66 
Gumey, J. J., 118 


Hall, Captain Basil, 54 
Hall, Mr. (of Ayr), 214-216 
Hamilton, Captain, 172 
Hampden Clubs, 42, 43 
Hampden, John, 5 
Hardwick, Lord, 302, 303 
" Hare's System," 20 
Hawes, Mr., 236 
Hawkins, Dr. Bissett, 321 
Hazelwood School, building of, 48, 

49 ; visitors to, 50-54 
Hazelwood System, 48, 49; Bishop 

of Durham on, 49 ; introduction o^ 

in Sweden, 50 
Helps, Arthur, 298 
Henderland, William Murray of, 144, 

Henderson, Colonel, 320 

Herschel, Sir John, 176 

High Bailiff of Birmingham, 43, 44 

Hill, Arthur, 32 ; a young playwright, 
33t 47 ; " Public Education," 49 ; 
visits to Gnemsey, St. Malo, and 
Paris with his brother Frederic, 
63-70, 237; visit to Switzerland 
with his brother Frederic, 243-246, 
291 ; likeness between him and his 
brother Frederic, 327, 328 ; recita- 
tions from Shakespeare, 329 ; his 
memory, 330; union of brothers, 


Hill, Mrs. Arthur, 98, 191 

Hill, Edwin, 20 ; one of conveners of 
first meeting in Birmingham for 
Parliamentary Reform, 44 ; letters 
from, 107, 108 ; takes up subject of 
Currency, no, 237, 268, 291, 294, 
297 ; ingenious contrivances at 
Somerset House, 324, 325 ; in his 
bedroom, 325 ; writings on econo- 
mic subjects, 325, 326; love of 
poetry, 327 ; union of brothers, 333, 

Hill, Frederic, panonal samtiTe — 
Birth, I ; early recollections, great- 
uncle John Hill, 2, 3 ; adventure 
with a hone, Jubilee of George 
in., 22 ; fear of pressgang, 23, 24 ; 
schemes for earning money, 24-26 ; 
favourite stories, 27 ; the " Hong 
merchants," 28 ; long frost of 1813- 
14, first going to the play, 29 ; 
Shenstone's •• Leasowes," 30, 31 ; 
ascent of a balloon, 31, 32 ; school- 
fellows, acting plays, 32, 33 ; anec- 
dotes of his mother, 33-35 ; publi- 
cation of "Waverley," Peace re- 
joicings of 1814, war recommences, 
fear of " Boney," preparations for 
defence, arrival of news of victory 
of Waterloo, 35-37; "Warwick 
'Sizes," sees two men in the pillory, 
sees prisoners in .chains, 37 ; bread 
riots, attempt of mob to fix prices, 
''forestalling and regrating,'* 37, 



Hill, Frederic — continued, 
38; widespread distress of 1816, 
42 ; removal of family from "Hill- 
top *' to " Hazelwood,'* becomes a 
teacher at age of thirteen, 47, 48 ; 
" Hazelwood System," 48-50 ; dis- 
tinguished visitors to Hazelwood, 
50-54 ; sees Maria Edgeworth, 54 ; 
friends of the fomily, 54-58 ; visits 
to France and Guernsey, debate in 
Chamber of Deputies, Benjamin 
Constant, Daniel de Lisle Brock, 
Constitution of Guernsey, St. Malo, 
alarm of fire, seeking a juge de 
paix, his judgment, 60-70; is 
chosen at £unily council to work 
for Reform Bill agitation, 77-100 ; 
the "Family Fund," no, 11 1; 
removal from Birmingham to Bruce 
Castle, Tottenham, 113; early 
ambition, is "called" to the Bar, 
.becomes Parliamentary Secretary 
to Mr* Sergeant Wilde, 114. "5* 
is appointed Inspector of Prisons 
for Scotland (1835), II5» "6; 
visits Newgate and becomes ac- 
quainted with Mrs. Fry, Ii6-ii8; 
arrival in Edinburgh, welcomed by 
John Archibald Murray, 119, 120; 
tour of inspection, 120-132; Edin- 
burgh society, 134-164, 194, I95» 
204-211, 246-254; social inter- 
course during tours in Scotland, 
165-179 ; a stage-coach adventure, 
1 7 7 1 178; present at second reading 
of Postage Bill, 192 ; first acquaint- 
ance with Miss Martha Cowper; 
188, 191 ; marriage, 193 ; return to 
Edinburgh, 193, 194; tours in 
Scotland, 195-204, 211-217; sees 
procession on May 18, 1843, of 
seceding ministers who afterwards 
formed the " Free Kirk," 228-231 ; 
tours in Northumberland and Dur- 
ham, 242, 243 ; visit to Switzerland, 
244-246 ; Archbishop Whately, 
248-250; appointment as inspec- 
tor of an English prison district. 

Hill, Frederic — continued. 
255 ; letters from, during tours of 
inspection, 262-265, 268-^72 ; 
writes on " National Force," 265, 
266; writes work on "Crime," 
273-287 ; Great Exhibition Building 
of 185 1, 288-290; appointment as 
assistant secretary to the Post- 
Office, 290; becomes member of 
Law Amendment Society, Metro- 
politan Discharged Prisoners' Aid 
Society, Reformatory and Refuge 
Union, etc., 291 ; settles family at 
Hampstead, 291 ; his fiather's last 
illness and death, 293-295 ; mem- 
ber of " Friends in Council," 297, 
298 ; postal organization, 299, 300, 
309-312 ; opinion of Louis Napo- 
leon, 313, 314; home-life, personal 
traits and habits, 314, 315, 3I7> 
327, 328; intercourse with Post- 
masters-General, 316 ; retires from 
official life, 317 ; visits Egypt, 317, 
318; local undertakings at Hamp- 
stead, 318-320 ; union of brothers, 

333. 334 

Folitleal moTem«nta, connection 
with, present at first meeting in Bir- 
mingham for promoting Parliamen- 
tary Reform, 44, 45 ; Major Cart- 
wright, 45-47 ; writes on " Catholic 
Emancipation," 75* is chosen by 
family to work in the struggle for 
Parliamentary Reform, becomes 
member of the Birmingham Political 
Union, 77 ; letters from, 80, 8i > 
letters from, 90-92 ; elected mem- 
ber of Council of Political Union^ 
inaugurates Public Readings of the 
London News, 92-95 ; letter from, 
97, 98 ; is present at congratulatory 
meeting on Newhall Hill, 99; 
writes on "County Franchise 
Difficulty : how removable?" 309 ; 
works for " Women's Suffrage," 309 

Penal reforms, promotion of. Bill 
carried for the appointment of 
inspectors of prisons (1835),, re- 



Hill, Frederic — amti$meiL 
ceives appointment of Inspector of 
Prisons for Scotland, togeUier with 
counties of Northumberland and 
Durham, 115, 116; first tour of 
inspection, bad state of the Scotch 
gaols, 12&-133 ; first Report on the 
Prisons of Scotland sent to the 
Home Secretary, remedial measures 
proposed, 133; prepares heads of 
Prison Bill, 180; Bill carried (1839), 

180, 181; becomes member of 
Board of Directors, 181 ; need of a 
good Poor Law for Scotland, 3i8- 
221 ; voluntary prisoners, 219-221 ; 
appointed inspector of an English 
district, 255; reforms effected in 
Scotch prisons, 255-258; English 
prisons, 259-262 ; opinions on re- 
quisite qualifications of governors 
of prisons, entrusting to them the 
selection of subordinate officers, 

181, 182 ; productive prison labour, 
■33} 182-184, 212, 256; prison 
labour struggle in America, 322, 
323 ; artificial or penal labour, 183, 
*5^> *57» voluntary work, 183, 
184, 256-258; "separate system," 
" silent system," 259-261 ; use of 
parti-coloured clothing, 261 ; pub- 
lication of book on "Crime" 
dealing with the subjects of, self- 
regulating punishments, 273-276; 
the •* indeterminate sentence," 
276-280; reformatory treatment, 
training the will-power, " Elmira," 
280-284 ; capital punishment, 
changes in public opinion and in 
the law, 284-287. 

Soonomio and loeial ehangei, 
work for, writes on Constitution of 
Guernsey, its free trade, paper 
currency, and cheap justice, 64-66 ; 
State lotteries, opinion of, arbitrary 
legislation in respect to, 70, 71 ; 
collects information relative to 
** Truck System," 76 ; considers 
project for " Home Colonization," 

Hill, Frederic— <Mi/^flia/. 

104-107; writes work on "National 
Education, its Present State and 
Prospects,'* 108, 109; commence- 
ment of Com Law agitation,collects 
information and statistics on the 
subject for Mr. C. P. Villiers, M.P., 
III, 1 12 ; Penny Postage, draws up 
first petition to Parliament on its 
behalf, signed by the merchants 
of London, 191, 192 ; is interested 
in first Industrial Schools fowided 
by Sheriff Watson, 223-227 ; writes 
pamphlet embodying plan for " A 
National Force for the Economical 
Defence of the Country firom In- 
ternal Tumult and Foreign Agres^ 
sion " (1848), 265-268 ; joins Law 
Amendment Society, 291; advocates 
change in Patent Laws, 296, 297 ; 
promotes passing of Married Wo- 
men's Property Bill, 305-307 ; le- 
form in Law of Evidence, 307; 
lectures and writes on "Labour 
and Capital," 308, 309 ; writes on 
** Prison Labour," 309 ; local under- 
takings in Hampstead, 318-320 

Poftal mearazM, initiated by, mu- 
tual insurance societies rescued from 
liabilities, Money Order S]^em de- 
veloped, 299, 300; Contract System, 
3^^* 3^o> 3' 1 1 improvements in 
the interior of old Post-Office, 309, 
310; Annual Report and Postal 
Guide, 310; " Postal Notes," 310; 
Packet Service developed, pro- 
ducing increase of revenue and 
decrease of expense, 310, 311; 
foreign and colonial postage re- 
duced, 31 1 ; opinion of Civil Service 
competitive examinations, 311, 312 
Hill, Mrs. Frederic (Martha Cowper), 
188, 190, 191 ; marriage, 193 ; 
arrival in Edinburgh, Journal, 193, 
195 ; accompanies her husband in 
tours of inspection of prisons, 
195-199 ; visit to Abbotsford, 199- 
201 ; visits lo prisons, Edinbuigh 



society, 202-212; visit to Ayr, 
213-217 ; account of Sheriff Wat- 
son's sdiools, 225, 226 ; letter from, 
on Repeal of Com Laws, 246, 247 ; 
meets Mr. Frederick Douglas, 248 ; 
attends T. W. Hill in his last ill- 
ness, 293-295 ; Married Women's 
Property Bill, 30S-307. 3I3; sym- 
pathy with charitable workers, with 
children, with the fallen, with the 
reformatory work at "EUmira," 
320, 321 ; death, 321 
Hill, Geoige Birkbeck, D.C.U (second 
son of Arthur Hill), 192 ; quoted, 

3", 313, 331, 332, 333. 334 

Hill, Howard, 32, 4^ 

Hill, James, i, 2, 5, 7 

Hill, Mrs. James (nk Symonds), 5, 
7 ; letter from, at time of the Bir- 
mingham Riots (1791), 12, 13 

Hill, John, I 

Hill, John (son of the above), a vol- 
unteer in 1745 ; visits London, 
1760; sees preparations for trial of 
Lord Ferrers, the " honest juror," 

Hill, Julian (son of F«dwin Hill), 294 

Hill, Matthew, 8, 9, 14 

Hill, Matthew Davenport, gives his 
father's account of the Birmingham 
Riots of 1 791, 9, 10, II, 30; 
'< called" to Bar, defends Major 
Cartwright, 46, 47 j writes " Public 
Education," 49, 50; stories of 
Midland Circuit, 58, 59, 60; 
member of first committee of the 
Society for the Diffusion of Useful 
Knowledge, 72 ; writes essay on 
" Duelling," 74, 75 ; is present in 
House of Commons when Reform 
Bill is introduced, 79 ; letters from, 
during Reform Bill agitation, 89, 
90, 95, 100; elected M.P. for 
Hull, loi ; advocates reform in 
criminal procedure, loi, 102 ; 
speaks on abolition of slavery, 102, 
103, Ii3i "4f "9» I79» 237, 270; 
advocates the indeterminate sen- 

tence, 277, 278, 279, 291, 305, 314, 
324 ; characteristics, appearance, 
and home-life, 331, 332 ; union of 
brothers, 333, 334 

Hill, Mrs. M. D., 109, 332 

Hill, Sir Rowland, 20, 22, 23, 30, 
33» 35i 47 ; founds " Hazel wood 
System," 48 ; " Public Education," 
49-51, 60; member of first com- 
mittee of the Society for the Diffu- 
sion of Useful Knowledge, 72 ; 
letter from, during Reform Bill 
agitation, 94; letters on Ireland, 
103, 104; on "Home Colonies," 
104-106, 107-109 ; Penny Postage, 
191-193 ; opposition to his Postal 
Reform, 235 ; petition for com- 
mittee of inquiry, debate on in 
House of Commons, 236-238 ; 
appointment as secretary to the 
Postmaster-General, 239, 240, 243 ; 
desires his brother Frederic's 
assistance at the Post-Office, 290, 
291, 295, 297 ; opinion of Con- 
tract System, 311 ; of Civil Service 
competitive examinations, 311, 
312, 324* 327, 330. 331 ; union of 
brothers, 333, 334 

Hill, Sarah (n^ Symonds), 5, 7 ; 
letter from, during Birmingham 
Riots of 1791-2, 12, 13 

Hill, Sarah (afterwards Mrs. Williams, 
daughter of the above), letter from, 
during Birmingham Riots of 
1 791-2, 13, 14 

Hill, Sarah (Mrs. Thomas Wright 
Hill, nk Lea), i ; childhood, 15* 
17 ; marriage, 18 ; saves her hus- 
band's Vda, 19, 33-35i 98> 291 

Hill, Sarah (daughter of the above), 

Hill, Thomas Wright, I ; childhood, 
6-8 ; defends Dr. Priestley's house, 
9, 10 ; defends Baskerville House, 
II ; recognition of services by Dr. 
Priestley, 11, 12; marriage, 18; 
takes school in Birmingham, 19 ; 
invents plan for securing repre- 

22 — 3 



sentation to minorities, 20; pro- 
poses present principle of patent 
laws, 20 ; lectures on natural 
philosophy, 22, 23; consulted on 
political action, 44, 53, 56 ; 
chairman of Attwood's committee, 
100 ; quoted, 103 ; letter from, 179, 
237 ; letter from, on debate on 
Postal Reform, 238, 268, 291 ; 
letters from, 292, 293 ; his last ill- 
ness, pleasure on hearing of Great 
Exhibition of 1851, 294 ; death, 
295 ; letters on, 295, 296 ; notice 
of, in Spectator^ 334 

« Hillska Skola,*' 50 

Hilltop, I, 19, 47 

Hodgson, Dr., 308 

'* Home Colonies," 104-107 

Home, Francis, 138, 139 

Home, John (author of " Douglas "), 

147, 148 
Home, Mrs., 147 

Hone, William, 51 ; trial of, 52, 53 
Howard, John, 5, 6 ; aphorism of, 

Howitt, Mary, 306 
" Hudibras," author of, 5 
Hume, Joseph, M.P., 51, 89, 115 
Hunt, ** Orator," 79 
Hutton, Rev. Hugh, 85, 99 
Hutton, R. H., 308 

Ibrahim, Pacha, 243, 244 

" Indeterminate sentence," 275-280 

Industrial feeding schools, 222-227 

Insane, former treatment of, 71 

Ireland, problem of, 103, 104 

Irving, Washington, 53 

Ivory, Lord, letter firom, 186, 187 

Jameson, Mrs., 30S» 3I7 

Jeffrey, Lord, his election as member 
of first Reformed Parliament, 135, 
136 ; his brilliant conversation. 

I37» '38; "Little Jeffrey," 138, 
139, 144; Miss Stirling Graham's 
visit to, 159-164, 221 ; pride in 
Free Kirk movement, 231 

Jeston, Rev. H. P., 105-107 

Jevons, Professor Stanley, 308 

Johnson, Dr. (of Birmingham), 142 

Jones, Charles, 89, 98 

Jones, John, letter from, on death of 
T. W. Hill, 296 

Jubilees, royal, 22 

Juge de Paix, 69, 70 

Jurymen, stubborn, 270, 271 


Kere, John (of Glasgow), 169, 327 
Kidderminster, i, iS, 24 
Kirkpatrick, Sir Thomas, 170 
Knight, Charles, 72 ; publications of, 

72. 73. 74. 109, 189 
Kossuth, Louis, 313, 314 

Labour and capital, lectures on, 308, 


Lafitte, Jacques, 253, 254 

Law Amendment Society, 291, 296, 
297> 305, 307; incorporated with 
the Social Science Association, 308, 

Lea, Sarah. .S^^ Mrs. Thomas Wright 

Lea, Thomas, 35 
Lea, William, 15 
Lea, Mrs. William, 15 
Legislatorial attorney, 45-47 
Leigh, Rev. William, 269 
Lepard, John, 291 
Lennox, Lady Caroline, 176 
Leny, Mr., convener of the county 

of Dumfries, 170 
Lewin, Edward, 306 
Lewis, Mr., 45 
Lichfield, Earl of, 179 



London Bridge, old, 3, 33, 34 
Lottery, last State, 71 
Luckoek, Howard, 32, 33 


Macaulay, Lord, 153 
Macdonald, Dr., 230 
Macdonald, Sir Reginald, 169 
Macfarlan, Dr., 230 
Mackenzie, Lady, 249 
Mackenzie, Lord, 122, 14B, 173 
Mackenzie, Mrs. Stewart, 148, 149 
Mackenzie, Sir George, 249 
Maclaren, Charles, 150, 151, 210 
Maconochie, Captain, quoted, 282- 

Maddox, Mr., 45 
Mallet, Rev. H. F., 318 
Malthus, T. R., 104 
Manners, Lord John (Duke of Rut- 
land), 310 
Margate " hoy," 34 
Married Women's Property Bill, 305- 

Marshall, James, J. P., 320 
Martineau, Harriet, on Birmingham 

political union, 87-89 ; letter from, 

239. 306 
Massacre, Manchester, 45, 46 
Mathew, Father, 195 
Matthews, Charles, 56 
Maule, Hon. Fox, 168; letter from, 

180, 181 
Melbourne, Lord, 113, 249 
Melville, Lord, 181 
Menteth, J. Stuart, letter fvm, 186, 

Millington's Hospital, 5 
Moncrieff, Lord, 123 
Moore, Peter, M.P., 45 
Mulock, Dinah, 317 
Murray, Hon. Amelia, Infant Felons' 

Bill, 204, 205 
Murray, Andrew, 181 
Murray, Mrs., 146 

Murray (John Archibald), Lord, 119J 
120; centnil figure of Edinbuigh 

society, 143-145 ; his high cha- 
racter, 145, 146, 151, 251 
Murray, Lady, 145 


Napier, General Sir Charles, 184, 

Napoleon HL, 313, 314 

Nasmyth, James, on Professor 
Cowper, 189, 190 

** National Education," 108, 109 

« National Force," 265-268 

Neale, Mr. (author of " Juvenile De- 
linquency in Manchester "), 204 

Newgate, 116, 117 

Newhall Hill, meetings on, 44, 45, 

83-87, 98, 99 
Newton, Rev. John (of Olney), 6 
New Zealand, 54, 55 
Nichol, Colonel, 54, 55 
Nimmo, Peter, 156, 251 
*<Nithsdale and Galloway Songs, 


Orkney Islands, 124, 125 
Osborne, Bemal, 266 
Osier, Follett, 49, 294 
Owen, Robert, 116 

Packet Service, 310, 311 
Panmure, Lord, 167, 168 
Paper currency in Guernsey, 65 
•* Parents' Cabinet," 190, 191 
Paris, first visit to, 62, 63 ; second 

visit to, 63, 68-70 
Parkes, Bessie Raynor (Madame 

Belloc), 305 
Parkes, Joseph, 57, 97, 98 
Parr, Dr., 56-58 
Patent laws, 20, 296, 297 
Peace rejoicings, 35 
Peel, Sir Robert, 75, 142, 219, 220, 

232, 237, 287 



Penny Postage, 191-193 
Philosophical Institute of Birming- 
ham, 22, 23 
Phipson, Mr., 47 
Pillans, Professor, 247 
Places visited during tours of inspec- 
tion of which mention is made :— 
Aberdeen, 132, 222-227, ^S©; 
Arbroath, 128, 129, 167, 211; 
Ayr, 172, 173, 213-217; BanflF, 
165-167, 196; Beaumaris, 261; 
Brechin Castle, 167, 168 ; Brechin 
Gaol, 124 ; Carnarvon, 261 ; Craig 
Ellachie, 199 ; Crail, 122 ; Culross, 
168 ; Dahneny Park, 168 ; Ding- 
wall, 127, I97» 198; Dumfries, 
1 70; Dundee, 121, 211 ; Dunrobin 
Castle, 176, 177; Durham, 262; 
Elgin, 195, 196; Forfar Gaol, 
127 ; Fort George, 173 ; Glasgow, 
I32» 169, 184, 185 J Gordon CasUe, 
'75» 176; Greenlaw, 203, 204; 
Greenock, 171, 172; HuU, 262; 
Inverary, 176 ; Inverness, 122, 125, 
«^. I73» 198, 199; Ipswich, 269; 
Jedburgh, 202, 203 ; Kinross, 123, 
124 ; Kirkwall, 124, 125 ; Lerwick, 
'74, 175 ; Lincoln, 270, 271 ; Man- 
chester, 268, 271, 272 ; Montrose, 
167; Morpeth, 212; Newcastle, 
242 ; Northallerton, 262 \ Norwich, 
269 ; Paisley, 172 ; Perth, 177, 
i79» I99» ail; Richmond (York- 
shire), 262-265 J Ruthin, 261 ; 
Selkirk, 199 ; Stirling, " House of 
Touch," 169 ; Stranraer, Lochnaw 
Castle, 171 ; Strathpeffer, 197 • 
Strathspey, 199 ; Tain, 126 ; Tor 
Echelter, 197; Wakefield, 270 ; 
York, 262, 265 
Poor Law, 105, 106; for Scotland, 

157, 218-221 
" Pope Joan," game of, 25 
Postal Reform, opposition to, 235-239 
Poster announoing Public Readings 

in Birmingham, 93 
Post-Office mutual insurance socie- 
ties, 299 

Fkessgang, 93, 24 

Priestley, Dr., ^12, 50 

Pringle, Mn (Sheriff-Substitnte of 

Banfishire), 166 
Prison Bill for Scotland, 180, i8r 
Prison labour, 133, 181-185, 256- 

259. 30ft 322. 323 
Prisoners' Defence Bill, 102 
"Public EducaUon," 49-51, 53 
Public Rwwiings of the London News 

in Birmingham, 92-95 
Pulsiky, Ferencs, 313, 317 
Pnlszky, Madame, 317 

"Quarry," the, at Shrewsbury, 6 
Queen, the, 249 

Ramahoun Roy, 51 

Ransome, Allen, 269 

Ransome, James, 269 

Recorder of Birmingham. 5^ Matthew 

Davenport Hill 
Reform Bill, agitation for, in Midland 

Counties, 77-ioo, 103 
Reynolds, Hamilton, 56 
Richmond, Duke of, 115, 175 
Riots, Birmingham (of 1791), 9-14 
Riots, bread, 37, 38 
Roberts, David, R. A., 156, 157 
Rogers, Professor Thorold, 308 
Romilly, Sir Samuel, 287 
Rosebexy, Lord, i68 
Round, Hon. W. M. F., 282 ; letters 

from, on "Yates Bill," 322, 323 
Russell, Lord John, 79, 83. 115, 133, 

241 ; on capital punishment, 28c. 

Rutherford, Andrew (Lord), 143, 144 

St Malo, 67, 68 

Salt, Thomas Clutton, 87 



Sargant, Henry, letter from, on death 
ofT. W.Hill, 296 

Scholefield, Joshua, M.P., 81, 88, 
90, 91. 98, Joo, IIS 

Scotsman, first starting of, 150, 151 

Scott, John (Mr. Justice), 317, 318, 
330» 331 

Scott, Mrs. John (Leonora Edge- 
worth Hill), 247, 292, 293 

Scott, Sir Walter, 53,. 134, 135; 
diary of, quoted, 144-146 ; relates 
story of " Bride of Lammermoor,*' 
148, 149 ; on Miss Sterling Gra- 
ham's impersonations, 158, 199- 
201, 209, 210 

Scrimgeour, Mr., 131 

Seaforth, Lord, 14S 

Separate System, 133, 256, 260, 261 

Shenstone, William, epitaph on, 31 ; 
" Lcasowes," 30, 31 

Shetland Islands, 173-175 

Shuttleworth, John, 271 

Shuttleworth, Lady Kay, 306 

Siddons, Mrs., 147, 148, 155 

Silent System, 259-261 

Simpson, James, 140, 152-155, 204, 
205, 210; letter from, describing 
debate on Postal Reform, 236, 237 ; 
letter from, on "National Force," 
267, 268 

Slavery, abolition of, 103, 248 

Smith, Barbara Leigh (Madame 
Bodichon), 305, 306 

Smith, Rev. Sydney, 138, 139 

Smith, Right Hon. W. H., 311 

Social Science Association, 308 

Southey, Robert, 167 

Spiers^ Graham, 231 

Stanley, Bishop, funeral of, 269 

Stanley, Lord, 232 

Steel, Sir John, 252-254 

Steer, Mr., 71, 72 

Sutherland, Countess Duchess of, 
176, 177 

Sylvester, John ("Blackjack'*), 52 

Symonds, John, 5 

Symonds, Rev. Joshua, 5, 6 

Symonds, Sarah. See Mrs. James Hill 

Taylor, Pitt, work on " Evidence," 

Tdford^ Thomas, 140 
Thackeray, W. M., 227 
Theatre, F. Hill's first visit to, 29 
Thelwall, John, 51 
Thompson, Colonel, 268 
Thompson, George, 247 
Thomson, Thorn, 145 
Thomely, Thomas, M.P., 115 
Thornton, Samuel, 32, 33 
"Tinkers," 128, 129 
Trevelyan, Mr., 210 
"Truck System," 76 
Truro, Lord. See Sergeant Wilde 

Yilliers, Hon. Charles Pelham, M.P., 
first to bring the evils of the Com 
Laws before Parliament, iii, 115, 
291 ; letter from, on death of T. W. 
HUl, 295, 321 

Yilliers, Montague, Bishop of Dur- 
ham, 49 

Voluntary work in prisons, 183-185, 


" Wager of Battel," 39-41 

Wagstaff family, 24 

Wallace, Robert, 171, 172 

Wars, long, 37 

Warwick Gaol, 37 

Waterloo, news of victory of, 36 

Watson, Sheriff' (of Aberdeen), 222- 

227, 250* 251 
" Waverley," appearance of, 35 
Wellington, Duke of, 75, 79, 90, 91, 

97. 231-233 
Welsh, Dr., 229, 230 
Wesley, John, 3 
West, Dr., 249 
Whately, Archbishop, 248-250 



Wheatstone, Sir Charles, 234, 297, 

Whitfield, George, 3 
Wigham, John, 151, 152, 20$, 206, 

Wigham, Mrs., 151, 152, 205, 206, 317 
Wilberforce, William, 6, 51, 53 
Wilde, Sergeant (Lord Truro), 114, 
115 ; letter from, 116 ; moves 
for Parliamentary inquiry as to the 
carrying out of Mr. Rowland Hill's 
Postal Reforms, 236-238, 291 

Wilderspin, William, 190 

Wills, Henry, 150 

Wills, Mrs. Henry (Miss Janet 
Chambers), 149, 150 

Wilson, Lestock, 233 

Wilson, Professor, 221 

Winter, Alexander, F.S.S., hU ac- 
count of Elmiia quoted, 280, 2S1 

Wolseley, Sir Charles, 45 

Wolverhampton, 18, 19 

Wooler, Mr., 45 

Wright, Thomas, 6 



/. D. &* Ca.